Thailand Archeology

By | December 17, 2021

The first human presence in Thailand is attested by the recent excavations carried out in the rock shelter of Lang Rong Rien (province of Krabi, southern Thailand), where a level was revealed at the base of the deposit (about 37,000 years ago), referable to the Upper Pleistocene, characterized by small and medium-sized sliver industry previously known only in insular south-eastern Asia. A single- and double-sided coarse-chipped pebble industry of the late Pleistocene, known as the Hoabinhian industry, which in its later Holocene phases is associated with corded pottery, is widespread throughout the Thailand (except, perhaps, the central region). oriental) in the context of hunting and gathering economies. The chronological and cultural problem of the transition to production economies (agriculture / livestock) is in Thailand still unsolved. However, there are many sites certainly not Hoabinhian and prior to the use of bronze conventionally defined as Neolithic, even though tools in polished stone are a relatively late phenomenon and in percentage terms less significant than a long-lived and varied industry in chipped stone. The typology of the shapes and decorations in the ceramics associated with these ” Neolithic ” industries is also relatively diversified, underlining the regional character of the cultures, still for the most part little known, that produced them.

The technology of the fusion of copper / bronze artifacts seems to have made its appearance in Thailand in different places and times; the oldest attestation of this technology is that found in some sites (Non Nok Tha and Ban Chiang) on ​​the Khorat Plateau (north-eastern Thailand) and with some certainty dated around 2000 BC; the attestations in the central Thailand (sites of the Khao Wong Prachan Valley) seem a little later; much later (1st millennium BC?) would be the appearance of the metal in the southern Thailand, which seems to follow the cultural developments of the island regions. It is worth noting that in Thailand the appearance and diffusion of copper / bronze does not seem to be linked to a change in social or economic structures and that, in general in Southeast Asia, the bronze production was mainly oriented towards tools and jewelery. A drastic cultural change of the social and economic structures is highlighted instead with the appearance and diffusion of iron metallurgy – often in burial burials that are part of extensive necropolis – in the first half of the 1st millennium BC, especially in the central and northern Thailand Oriental. In these regions, at the end of the same millennium, we witness the appearance of settlements surrounded by moats and embankments, the spread of Indian-made artifacts and the formation of complex social structures. Although the chronological and cultural passage from the late prehistoric age to the Protohistory and the very phenomenon of the ” Indianization ” in Thailand are still to be defined in detail. For Thailand 2002, please check

Among the many aspects of the newborn protohistoric archeology of Thailand, one, that concerning long-distance exchange circuits, seems to be of particular interest. In the southern coastal regions, where, moreover, the appearance of a state structure is later than in the central Thailand, numerous evidences have been found that testify to such exchange circuits. At the Khlong Thom site, for example, a Chinese bronze mirror from the Han period (206 BC-220 AD) was found together with engraved gems and carnelian seals of Roman-Hellenistic manufacture and Indian artifacts.

As far as the archeology of the historical period is concerned, important investigations have been carried out in various settlements with moat and embankment from the Dvaravati period; for example. at the Si Thep site, in the valley of the Pasak river (central Thailand), the new investigations have allowed us to date the flowering of local stucco art in the Dvaravati style to the 7th-9th centuries, instead of the 5th, while a stele with a bilingual inscription in Sanskrit and Khmer found in the village of Sab Bak near Nakhon Ratchasima (central-eastern Thailand), datable to the 11th century, has provided valuable evidence of the presence in Thailand of Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism. Equally important is the research carried out in the Sisatchanalai area, on the banks of the Yom River (north-central Thailand). In the 13th century, under the cultural influence and, perhaps, Khmer policy exercised through the city of Lopburi (central Thailand), the two cities of Chalieng (or Sisatchanalai) and Sukhotai were founded, which had already become important ceramic production centers in the 13th century: the main kilns in the area, north of Chalieng on the west bank of the Yom, were brought to light in the 1980s and have made it possible to identify at least three different generations of ovens; those of the last of them could reach a length of 9 m and were reserved for the firing of glazed ceramics with decorations below deck both for the domestic market and for export.

Thailand Archeology