Polycentric interaction and political complexity in mid to late first millennium CE central Thailand
Matthew Gallon (Middlesex Community College)
Paper short abstract:
Recent research at several Dvaravati centers has provided new insights into the emergence of the first states and urban centers in central Thailand. This paper examines evidence for interaction between these centers, and how such interaction fueled political change during the first millennium CE.
Paper long abstract:
During the mid to late first millennium CE, shared forms of material culture, urban plans and religious art and architecture emerged across central Thailand, marking the emergence of the archaeological culture known as Dvaravati (c. fifth to tenth centuries CE). Recent archaeological research at Dvaravati sites in central Thailand, particularly the growing body of absolute dates from excavations, has made significant strides in revising our understanding of when this transition took place; however, we are still in the initial stages of exploring the processes that led to the emergence of the Dvaravati cultural horizon. Building on the concept of "peer polity interaction", this paper examines how competition between elites from multiple centers contributed to the emergence of a widely shared Dvaravati material culture. The paper will also consider the role that polycentric interaction may have played in the dramatic increases in political complexity that occurred during the Dvaravati period, as this type of interaction has been shown to be a common feature of the formative stage of early states from other regions of the world.
Recent advances in the archaeology of central Thailand