(The Australian National University)
Oliver Pryce (CNRS)
Aung Kyaw (Ministery of Culture)
Paper Short Abstract:
The 1998 excavation of a prehistoric cemetery at Nyaung’gan stimulated substantial international interest in Myanmar’s Bronze Age. The MAFM’s 2014 and 2015 excavations of a Bronze Age cemetery near Oakaie village provide a preliminary radiometric chronology for the Nyaung’gan culture area.
Paper long abstract:
The 1998 excavation of a prehistoric cemetery at Nyaung'gan by the Department of Archaeology, Ministry of Culture 30 km north of Monywa, stimulated substantial international interest in Myanmar's Bronze Age. The site was thus attributed due to the presence of copper-base artefacts coupled with the absence of ferrous and glass; the latter material classes associated with the regional Iron Age. Radiometric determinations were not possible at the time but the date was estimated at 1500 to 1000 BC.
The dating of the Southeast Asian Bronze Age has been radically revised in recent years thanks to a large scale programme of radiocarbon dating using ultrafiltration techniques with Bayesian data processing. Where Myanmar fits in the regional trend is of critical importance for understanding the direction and speed of metallurgy's adoption in Southeast Asia, and its subsequent social impacts. For the 2014 and 2015 seasons the Mission Archéologique Française au Myanmar has been excavating a, seemingly, Bronze Age cemetery near Oakaie village, only 2.5 km from Nyaung'gan in order to provide a preliminary chronology for the Nyaung'gan culture area.
The Oakaie cemetery has two phases, the earlier of which is comparable in burial practice and material culture to that known from Nyaung'gan. In the absence of any recovered macro or micro charcoal, thirteen human bone collagen samples were submitted. All failed. We subsequently attempted to AMS 14C date the mineral (carbonate apatite) fraction of these bones. These results finally place central Myanmar within the Southeast Asian Bronze Age sequence.
Myanmar: its past and its regional and inter-regional interactions