Recent research on Bronze Age Myanmar presented

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The recent work of the Mission Archéologique Française au Myanmar on excavations investigating the Bronze Age of the Sagaing Region were presented last month in Yangon.

Dr Pryce presenting on the Bronze Age of the Sagaing region. Source: Myanmar Times 20160225

Dr Pryce presenting on the Bronze Age of the Sagaing region. Source: Myanmar Times 20160225

Bronze Age site excavated in Sagaing Region
Myanmar Times, 25 February 2016

Last week, on February 17, Pryce, director of Mission Archéologique Française au Myanmar (MAFM) who leads the mission, and his team presented their findings at the French Institute in Yangon. Their research, conducted from 2014 to 2016, has provided a unique look into life in the Nyaung’gan Bronze Age.

“Bronze Age settlements in Southeast Asia are very rare. There are maybe four in Thailand and a couple in southern Vietnam. It seems that the settlement sites in Oakaie village are very big,” Pryce said.

Excavations to the south of Oakaie village in Butalin township in Sagaing Region have indentified where Bronze Age people lived and shows that many of them worked in the production of stone adzes, beads and bracelets.

Pryce said the findings should be a source of proud for the people for Myanmar and that they allow for the recovery of valuable information about the ways of life of our ancestors.

Full story here.

Two new papers in Antiquity

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Reader may be interested in two papers related to Southeast Asian Archaeology in the latest issue of Antiquity.

Rainfall and circular moated sites in north-east Thailand
Glen Scott and Dougald O’Reilly

The existence of moated mounds in the archaeological record of north-east Thailand has long been known, the majority constructed during the earlier first millennium AD. Despite considerable research, the purpose of the substantial and sometimes multiple moats surrounding raised occupation mounds has remained a mystery. Combining locational, hydrological and rainfall data with the archaeological evidence, this study of the moated mounds of the Khorat Plateau seeks to resolve the question through statistical analysis. The results suggest that water storage may have been the primary purpose of the moats, enabling communities to survive dry seasons and droughts.

Debating a great site: Ban Non Wat and the wider prehistory of Southeast Asia
C.F.W. Higham

Almost half a century has elapsed since the first area excavation of a prehistoric site in north-east Thailand at Non Nok Tha (Bayard & Solheim 2010) (Figure 1). A long and still unresolved debate has ensued, centred on the chronology of the establishment of rice farming and bronze casting, that has dovetailed with further controversies on the pace and nature of social change. Results obtained during the past 20 years of fieldwork focused on the upper Mun Valley of north-east Thailand, together with a new series of AMS radiocarbon determinations from key sites, have thrown into sharp relief contrasting interpretations of two issues: one centres on the timing and origin of the Neolithic settlement; the other on the date and impact of copper-base metallurgy. A consensus through debate would bring us to a tipping point that would see Southeast Asian prehistory turn to more interesting issues of cultural change.

Two new articles on Thailand

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Two recent articles of note, from Prof. Charles Higham.

1. A New Chronology for the Bronze Age of Northeastern Thailand and Its Implications for Southeast Asian Prehistory
Charles F. W. Higham, Katerina Douka, Thomas F. G. Higham

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137542

This article presents and discusses new radiocarbon chronologies for the sites of Ban Chiang, Ban Na Di, Ban Lum Khao and Non Nok Tha.

2. From site formation to social structure in prehistoric Thailand
Charles F. W. Higham

Journal of Field Archaeology
Volume: 40, Issue: 4, Aug 2015, pp. 383 – 396

This article presents new information on the development of residential burial during the later Iron Age, compared with the use of dedicated cemeteries during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.

Grain finds in Yunnan raises interesting questions for prehistoric migration into Southeast Asia

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A find from China that may have some bearing on Southeast Asia – 4,000-year-old wheat and millet have been found in Yunnan province , further south than originally thought. While the study has yet to be published, the find raises interesting questions about the movement of people from China down and through to mainland Southeast Asia in the Neolithic and the Bronze Age.

Grain finds in Yunnan province may shed light on a Bronze Age civilisation
South China Morning Post, 09 December 2012
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Metal age burial site discovered in Myanmar

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Archaeologists have unearthed a large metal age cemetery, with at least 35 individuals, thought to be from the Bronze or Iron age in the Mandalay region of Myanmar.

Burial in Gyogon Village, Pyawbwe Township. Myanmar Times 20111212-18

Pre-Pyu era remains uncovered in Pyawbwe township
The Myanmar Times, 12-18 December 2011
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