Prehistoric Thailand- Ban Chiang

Ban Chiang is a prehistoric archaeological site situated in Thailand with UNESCO world heritage status since 1992. It is famous for its red pottery designs that depict swirling lines. It is specifically located in the Nong han district within Udon Thani Province. The site was discovered by Steven Young, an Anthropology student at Harvard college in 1966.

The site was found to contain an array of pre-historic objects, the oldest some of which were said to have dated back to 2100 BC. It was suggested that Ban chiang came about in the Neolithic age however when humans were not working with metal tools, then through to the Bronze and Iron ages. Using technology; including radiometric dating, over time the timeframe of this site has become more defined.

Farm tools, jewellery, ceramics and pottery were all discovered as well as skeletal remains. The jewellery was found to contain bracelets, anklets and rings that were made of bronze. The tools were found to contain blades, spears, axes and hooks. This strongly implies that the people who lived at Ban Chiang were farming the land considering the tools that were found. This was particularly evident upon the discovery of rice fragments at the site too, suggesting this was what the settlers at Ban Chiang cultivated and included in their diet. There was also evidence to suggest the settlers during this stage held domesticated animals, which again heavily implies are farming community once thrived at Ban Chiang.

It was suggested that the discovery was found to contain a cemetery initially, but it was eventually found to be a burial dwelling, whereby the deceased were buried near or beneath their dwellings. This means that a lot of the artefacts found were buried with the skeletal remains. The makes sense considering the fine pottery, ceramics and jewellery that was found as this strongly implies the culture and burial practices of the people at Ban Chiang. However, it was also probable that they were used for personal wear.

Today Ban Chiang is a pivotal insight into Thailand’s prehistoric past and is said to be one of the greatest prehistoric discovered sites in all South-East Asia. The site heavily implies what life was like for the people who lived at Ban Chiang in terms of human evolution, social, agricultural and manufacture.

Although the site might not be as popular as Sukhothai Historical Park in Lower Northern Thailand it is still a captivating site that has  helped to shape our understanding of Thailand’s prehistoric past to the world since the 1960s.


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