September 23, 2015

Which is the correct date for the beginning of the SE Asian Bronze Age

Quickies


According to this new study of Thai sites, the SE Asian Bronze Age, whose dating has been controversial, began probably in the late 2nd millennium BCE and not before.


Charles F.W. Higham et al., A New Chronology for the Bronze Age of Northeastern Thailand and Its Implications for Southeast Asian Prehistory. PLoS ONE 2015. Open accessLINK [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0137542]

Abstract

There are two models for the origins and timing of the Bronze Age in Southeast Asia. The first centres on the sites of Ban Chiang and Non Nok Tha in Northeast Thailand. It places the first evidence for bronze technology in about 2000 B.C., and identifies the origin by means of direct contact with specialists of the Seima Turbino metallurgical tradition of Central Eurasia. The second is based on the site of Ban Non Wat, 280 km southwest of Ban Chiang, where extensive radiocarbon dating places the transition into the Bronze Age in the 11th century B.C. with likely origins in a southward expansion of technological expertise rooted in the early states of the Yellow and Yangtze valleys, China. We have redated Ban Chiang and Non Nok Tha, as well as the sites of Ban Na Di and Ban Lum Khao, and here present 105 radiocarbon determinations that strongly support the latter model. The statistical analysis of the results using a Bayesian approach allows us to examine the data at a regional level, elucidate the timing of arrival of copper base technology in Southeast Asia and consider its social impact.


Fig 8. Bayesian probability functions (PDFs) for the beginning of the Bronze Age in Thailand.

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