Impacts of social changes on human biology: the Khao Wong Prachan Valley, Thailand
(Appalachian State University)
Paper short abstract:
This study uses a multi-period site, Non Mak La, from the Khao Wong Prachan Valley in central Thailand to explore the potential human biological responses with regard to the potential impacts of social and landscape changes during the Metal Age.
Paper long abstract:
The Metal Age of Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA) is a transitional period where social complexity, population structure, and craft and food production underwent marked changes. As a major copper ore source of MSEA in Lopburi, Thailand, the Khao Wong Prachan Valley supplied raw metallurgical material within and beyond the region and sustained prosperous local metallurgy. Intensified craft production, in part, may have contributed to the social complexity increase and landscape modification during the Metal Age. This study is part of a large project characterizing human biological responses to the external social and landscape changes over time in prehistoric central Thailand. Non Mak La is a multi-period occupation/mortuary site with two other metallurgically active sites nearby, all excavated by the Thailand Archaeometallurgy Project. The human burials are divided into Earlier (~late Neolithic) and Later groups (intermediate and the Metal Age) based on a preliminary chronology. Prevalence of dental pathologies representing childhood stress, dietary habits, and general hygiene of the Non Mak La people demonstrates an overall stable and low-impact pattern despite the fluctuation of non-biological parameters. The results are comparable to other contemporaneous central Thai sites and the larger MSEA context. It is posited that the potential impacts of social and landscape changes on human oral conditions and childhood well-being may have been transcended by the dietary inertia of utilizing the wide-spectrum and locally available foodstuffs.
Addressing regional and world-scale archaeological questions through human bioarchaeology in Southeast Asia