Land use, water management and religious beliefs in the urban landscape of historic West-Central Thailand (ca. 11th-14th Centuries AD)
Paper short abstract:
This paper investigates the cultural landscape of riverine moated towns during 11th-14th centuries AD in West-Central Thailand. It examines relationships between humans and the environment. Recent surveys show patterns in land use, water management and possible roles of religious beliefs.
Paper long abstract:
This paper investigates the cultural landscape of ancient riverine moated towns of Suphanabhumi (Suphanburi), Ratchburi and Petchaburi during 11th-14th centuries AD in West-Central Thailand. These towns were situated on the banks of major rivers, locations that suggest the significance of their roles in trade. However, due to an absence of local records, this region is less understood although the cities were considered allies or part of the Sukhothai Kingdom. (Sukhothai, situated in the lower part of the Northern region, is known as the "first" capital city of Thailand). Despite large constructions of their moated sites, the knowledge of this region has relied largely upon foreign texts and imported articles. Some scholars have suggested Chen Li Fu, a polity mentioned in a 13th century Chinese chronicle, might have been situated in the West-Central region. The study aims to extend the understanding of the regional socio-economy, which it is hoped will contribute to the understanding of society in its inter-regional context. Study methods, including interpreting aerial photographs as well as conducting field surveys in order to identify ancient features on the landscape, were used. Information obtained from local interviews on rice cultivation before the time of modern irrigation proved useful. Recent field surveys showed strategic patterns in land use and water management. These have reflected local traditions and knowledge as well as a sophisticated social organization. Also, it has been noticed that religious beliefs may have played a significant role in society perhaps in helping people cope with nature's uncertainties.
Recent advances in the archaeology of central Thailand