Life and death at Iron Age Phromthin Tai, Central Thailand
(NC State University)
Thanik Lertcharnrit (Silpakorn University)
Scott Burnett (Eckerd College)
Paper short abstract:
Analysis of Iron Age skeletons from Phromthin Tai in Central Thailand suggest cribra orbitalia and trauma frequencies are similar to those reported for some Northeastern sites in the same period, while frequencies of dental caries are significantly lower at Phromthin Tai.
Paper long abstract:
Recently reported regional analyses seem to suggest that there were important cultural and perhaps subsistence differences between Central and Northeastern Thailand, with no real evidence of substantial migration between the two regions. The primary relationship between the two areas may have been trade in salt from the Northeast, in exchange for copper, bronze ornaments, and exotic beads from Central Thailand. Our analysis of the 20 adult and seven juvenile skeletons excavated from the site of Phromthin Tai in Lopburi province, Central Thailand, suggests that health may not have been so different for individuals compared with Northeast Thailand. Frequencies of health indicators such as cribra orbitalia (17%) are statistically indistinguishable from those at late period Ban Chiang, for example, as are the proportion of individuals showing evidence of fractures. The types of trauma seen at Phromthin Tai (5 ribs, 1 clavicle, only 1 parietal) suggest primarily accidental or occupation-related trauma rather than interpersonal violence. The main difference seen between skeletons at Phromthin Tai and those described for Northeast Thailand is in occurrence of dental caries. The frequency of dental caries among adult teeth at Phromthin Tai is 0.6% (1 in 175 teeth) and is significantly lower than that reported for either Ban Chiang (5.2%) or Noen U-Loke (3.8%). This may indicate a difference in subsistence strategy between the two areas.
Addressing regional and world-scale archaeological questions through human bioarchaeology in Southeast Asia