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.