Accepted paper:

Fingerprinting metal-working in central Thailand: a geochemical survey approach


Matthew Tighe
Lisa Kealhofer (Anthropology and Environmental Studies and Sciences Depts., Santa Clara University)
Peter Grave (Archaeology, University of New England)
Vincent Pigott (Asian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum)

Paper short abstract:

Soils-based geochemical survey methodology is used to track downstream "plumes" from previously studied ancient metalworking sites in central Thailand. If successful, this approach will be expanded to regions where metalworking is suspected but for which no sites have as yet been identified.

Paper long abstract:

How copper-base metallurgy spread and developed in Asia is a highly contentious topic. While the spread of metal can be tracked through metal objects in archaeological sites, understanding the ways that metalworking knowledge was transmitted requires studying metalworking sites. Identifying the geochemical signatures that different metalworking techniques may have left in modern surface soils could provide a useful tool in studying the development of metalworking in Southeast Asia. This pilot project will capitalize on previous excavations of metalworking sites in the Lopburi region of central Thailand, under the auspices of the joint Thai Fine Arts Department and University of Pennsylvania Museum Thailand Archaeometallurgy Project [TAP] (Pigott, Weiss & Natapintu 1997; Pigott, Mudar et al. 2006; Rispoli, Ciarla & Pigott 2013). These metalworking sites are ideally suited for a pilot study trialing the use of in-situ geochemical assessment techniques. A rapid survey of elemental soil signatures known to be influenced by metalworking will be compared with known archaeological site details to evaluate the efficacy of the geochemical techniques for identifying site locations and potential metalworking activity areas.

panel P14
Recent advances in the archaeology of central Thailand