The Thailand archaeometallurgy project in 2015: an overview
Vincent Pigott (Asian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum)
Paper short abstract:
Non Pa Wai, Nil Kham Haeng and Non Mak La are linked to a major, central Thailand-based copper industry. Insights are offered into lifeways/society in this unique prehistoric context as well as into the sites’ material culture-based, long-distance interactions elsewhere in Thailand and beyond.
Paper long abstract:
Central Thailand has a distinguished history of archaeological research that continues today. Scholars presenting in the central Thailand panel offer proof of this fact. This lead-off paper presents an overview of research based on excavations conducted by the joint Thai-American Thailand Archaeometallurgy Project (TAP) at the prehistoric sites of Non Pa Wai, Nil Kham Haeng and Non Mak La in the Khao Wong Prachan Valley (KWPV). Research advances by the TAP team have been made in the fields of archaeometallurgy (the speaker & T.O. Pryce), regional chronology (R. Ciarla), ceramic analysis (F. Rispoli), casting mold typology (J.C. Voelker), bioarchaeology (Chin-hsin Liu), archaeobotany (S.A. Weber, L. Kealhofer), and faunal analysis (K.M. Mudar). As a result, for example, we have new understanding as to where copper-base metal produced in the KWPV was being transported. We have central Thailand's first published, regionally relevant, pre- and proto-historic ceramic sequence linking central Thailand to elsewhere in the country and beyond. Ceramic bivalve casting mold analysis sheds new light on what was being cast at the KWPV sites. New insights also have been achieved in palaeo-diet and subsistence through bioarchaeological and archaeobotanical investigations. Finally, the study of faunal remains offers a preliminary look at protein-based diet, domestication and hunting and gathering of wild food sources. The ultimate aim of such research is to characterize lifeways and society at the three related sites in 2nd/1st millennium BC (and later) central Thailand and some observations in this regard are offered.
Recent advances in the archaeology of central Thailand