Accepted Paper:

Iron Age glass and metal networks in Myanmar: isotopic evidence from the Mission Archéologique Française au Myanmar (MAFM)  

Authors:

Laure Dussubieux (The Field Museum)
Oliver Pryce (CNRS)
Oliver Pryce (CNRS)

Paper Short Abstract:

Myanmar has been under-represented in the reconstruction of late prehistoric Southeast Asian metal and glass exchange networks. The Bronze and Iron Age cemetery assemblages excavated by MAFM offer an excellent opportunity to position Myanmar within regional and inter-regional socio-economic interactions.

Paper long abstract:

The last fifteen years have seen significant advances in the reconstruction of late prehistoric Southeast Asian metal and, from the Iron Age, glass exchange networks. In the absence of detailed ceramic typologies this research has much improved our understanding of regional and inter-regional socio-economic interactions. Unfortunately, Myanmar has been heavily under-represented in these studies.

The Mission Archéologique Française au Myanmar has been excavating Bronze and Iron Age cemeteries around Mandalay since 2001. The resulting assemblages, including glass mostly in the forms of beads and copper alloys in the form of wire bundles, offer an excellent opportunity to integrate Myanmar's exchange patterns with those of its contemporary neighbours. An in depth study of these materials was recently conducted combining typological description, compositional and isotopic analysis.

The glass results indicate the presence of two major types known from regional sites of the 4th to the 2nd c. AD. These groups were refined by lead, strontium and neodymium isotope measurements on a small subsample, which indicate possible glass provenances from Northeastern India and Northern Vietnam. The style of the beads seems local. Analysis of the metal wire bundles indicates a homogeneous 'pure' copper composition, which, lacking regional matches, is suggestive of a new primary production signature. The sole Bronze Age artefact, an axe, does not match any known regional sources.

Panel P06
Myanmar: its past and its regional and inter-regional interactions