Monuments of Ban Chiang (World Heritage)
According to physicscat, the area on the Khorat Plateau in northeastern Thailand, discovered in the 1960s, is the most important prehistoric site in Southeast Asia. Archaeologists found there 6,000 to 7,000 years old painted ceramics, which point to a highly developed but previously unknown culture in which rice was grown and metal (bronze and iron) was processed.
Monuments of Ban Chiang: Facts
|Official title:||Archaeological Monuments of Ban Chiang|
|Cultural and natural monument:||Site of a Neolithic-Bronze Age culture that already knew rice cultivation, pig and chicken breeding, skeleton, bronze and ceramic finds, ceramics with string decoration, stylized snake, fish and lizard motifs|
|Country:||Thailand, Udon Thani (Northeast Thailand)|
|Location:||Ban Chiang, south of Vientiane (Laos)|
|Meaning:||to this day the most important prehistoric settlement find in Southeast Asia|
Monuments of Ban Chiang: History
|around 3500 BC Chr.||than previously unsecured dating of the ceramic finds|
|around 1500 BC Chr.||latest dating of the beginnings of Ban Chiang|
|1966||first finds and archaeological investigations|
|1967||further ceramic and bronze finds for the first time|
|1971||Continuation of the excavations and the discovery of vases with spiral motifs and bronze rings|
|1972||Grave finds at the temple Wat Pho Sri Nai|
|1974-75||Uncovering of another 130 graves|
Bronze gems under rice fields
A few decades ago, beautiful ceramic vessels and enigmatic bronze tools appeared in collectors’ markets in Bangkok. Where did they come from? How old have you been? Who made it No one could give an answer to any of these questions.
Enlightenment came when the young American anthropologist Stephen Young made a chance find in the village of Ban Chiang. When he fell over the roots of a kapok tree, he discovered a clay pot in the dusty soil. He dug it up and found other vessels in shapes and colors that he had never seen in the area. Convinced of the importance of his discovery, he sent some finds to experts in Bangkok, where they were dated to an age of over 5000 years. The sensation was perfect because the region was previously assumed to have been settled five centuries ago at the earliest.
Ban Chiang, a village of rice farmers whose ancestors had fled politically troubled Laos two centuries ago and found a new home on a small hill in northeast Thailand, had already been settled five millennia ago, namely by people, their artisanal and technical skills were so highly developed that the region around Ban Chiang can be attributed to the well-known germ cells of human civilization in the river oases of the Nile, Euphrates and Indus.
Numerous burial sites have been uncovered beneath meter-thick layers of earth. Pottery, bronze tools and jewelry accompanied the dead into the afterlife. Depending on the type of grave goods, the researchers named some skeletal finds: “Nimrod”, named after Noah’s great-grandson, in the Book of Moses in the Old Testament the “mighty hunter” and “First to win power on earth”, received a spear for the afterlife with a bone tip, two tiger teeth and a needle made of bone. Did he once capture the animals of which remains have been found: sambar deer, rhinoceros and crocodile? Were tiger teeth and needles his personal jewelry? Did they adorn his ears or did they hold his long hair together? It can only be guesswork, but the exhibits in the museum and in the excavation area invite the viewer to let his imagination run wild. – »Vulcan«, For which the Roman god of fire was the godfather, lies with a well-preserved skeleton in a showcase. The bronze objects next to him – ax, bracelets and 30 balls – suggest that he may have worked as a bronze caster or blacksmith.
The early residents of the Thai northeast did not get old, on average barely over 30 years. Bone exams suggest iron deficiency, anemia, and malaria. Some teeth are just broken teeth with clear signs of periodontal disease. The betel nut may have caused “tooth corrosion” – an expensive price for the drug’s intoxicating effects.
How the old bronze founders came to their art remains a mystery. There are no indications of importing the necessary knowledge from other cultural areas. Your tools and jewelry show an ideal mix of copper and tin; The casting technique and the finishing of the metal pieces were also masterly. The replenishment of the necessary ore required organized trade over great distances: the nearest deposits are on the other side of the Mekong River, near Vientiane in what is now Laos.
The early bronze production is the outstanding feature of the culture of Ban Chiang, but other achievements mark the advanced level of development of the Stone Age civilization in this region. It is likely that wild rice was selected and cultivated here for the first time. Water buffalo, pigs and sheep were domesticated, and the quality of the pottery with the ornate ornaments in ocher and red is considered unique for the time.
It is not yet clear why this highly developed civilization disappeared at the beginning of the third century CE. Since Southeast Asia’s early history is still largely unknown, the excavations at Ban Chiang help, however, to lift the veil of the archaeological “terra incognita” a little.