Recent research in central Thailand has shed new light on Metal Age and Historic Period developments. Topics include copper production and trade, soil geochemistry and smelting, bivalve molds, shell ornament technology, residue analysis and diet, the Ban Kao Culture, the Dvaravati and moated towns.
The archaeology of central Thailand was pioneered by the late, great Per Sorensen and colleagues at the site of Ban Kao. Since then a steady increase in archaeology in the region yielded results from a host of Metal Age and Historic Period sites. Several successful site surveys also must be added to the list. Thus the region has an important archaeological history rivaling Northeast Thailand's and provides an opportunity for understanding regional cultural dynamics. The panel presentations speak first to recent research by members of the Thailand Archaeometallurgy Project (TAP) in the Khao Wong Prachan Valley (KWPV) and the Lopburi Regional Archaeological Project (LoRAP). V. C. Pigott provides an overview of the session and discusses prehistoric lifeways and society at the TAP sites. F. Rispoli and R. Ciarla discuss their recent study of marine shell ornament production and its trade. J. Voelker presents her TAP research on bivalve molds. M. Tighe and colleagues focus on a pending coring and soil geochemistry project at TAP/LoRAP sites. T. Lertcharnrit presents on residue analysis, diet and early complex society. B. Vincent discusses Ban Kao ceramic petrography, while I. Yoopom and S. Duangsakul speak about excavations and pottery at the the Ban Kao Culture Neolithic site of Nong Ratchawat. S. Murphy, M. Gallon and N. Revire discuss their interpretations of the Dvaravati. Finally, P. Kanjanajuntorn presents her research on Historic Period, riverine moated towns in West-Central Thailand.