TARL Seminars TARL seminar 15 March 2024

TARL seminar 15 March 2024

When does a ditch become more than just a ditch? A new look at the pre-Angkorian site of Sai-O, Buriram Province, NE Thailand

Dr Nigel Chang

This presentation focuses on the long recognised, but little studied (aren’t they always), archaeological site of Sai-O in lower NE Thailand.  This site was first brought to international attention in the 1980s by David Welch and Judith McNeil. However, it has never really featured in the literature. So many things about it suggest that it is just another of the 100s of ‘prehistoric’ moat and mound sites in the area. However, its location and some specific features do stand out and these will be discussed in the presentation.

NE Thailand has been a focus for prehistorians in the region for several decades. Much of the interest has in the earlier periods; Neolithic, Bronze Age & Iron Age – prior to the first states and Empires. However, Charles Higham’s influential (overwhelmingly so) projects have often emphasised how these early periods provided the preconditions for the eventual appearance of state society – especially the Angkorian Empire. Murphy has emphasised that NE Thailand may have been more centrally important to the development of Dvaravati society in central Thailand (prior to Angkor). How does Sai-O contribute to these discussions?

This presentation will draw on work by my students Helen Ball & Philip Torcato, as well as some very early planning for new projects integrating archaeology and developing local economies in the present day.

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