The emergence and adoption of metallurgy is one of the seminal topics of investigation in the history of archaeology, particularly in the history of archaeological research in Southeast Asia. The site of Ban Chiang, Thailand, is a central site in debates surrounding the chronology and significance of early metallurgy in the region. This book is the first in a series of four volumes that review the contributions of Ban Chiang and three related sites in northeast Thailand excavated by the Penn Museum to an understanding early metallurgy in Thailand.
As the study of archaeometallurgy is a complex topic that draws on numerous technical and social science disciplines, this introductory volume presents in several chapters the background needed to assess the metal and related evidence presented in the subsequent volumes in this series. A history of perspectives on the role of metals in ancient societies generally and Southeast Asia, specifically, is provided. Other chapters debunk the conventional paradigm for understanding metals and society and provide current theoretical perspectives and new paradigms for the study of ancient metals. The geological basis for the presence and location of metal ore resources in the region is reviewed. The final chapter presents a technical overview of ways material properties of ancient metals may be studied. While providing a background to the study of metals at Ban Chiang, the volume also reviews, synthesizes, and repositions the method and theory for the study of archaeometallurgy generally.
Thai Archaeology Monograph Series, 2A; University Museum Monograph, 149
[A] true magnum opus....an exquisite examination of all aspects of the metalwork and metalworking remains discovered on four sites—Ban Chiang, Ban Tong, Ban Phak Top, and Don Klang—and all associated information required to understand the state and development of prehistoric bronzeworking and ironworking technologies in northeast Thailand within the context of Southeast Asian archaeology and archaeometallurgical studies more broadly. The reader obtains an in-depth knowledge not only of the excavated and analytical evidence of metalworking at the four sites within the larger regional context of northeast and central Thailand and Laos, but also the theoretical and methodological frameworks used to analyze these results and their ramifications within"—Journal of Anthropological Research
the larger societal contexts of Southeast Asia, as well as how future archaeologists can apply these results to their own research and conduct similar investigations.
"The volumes are necessary reading by anyone with an interest in Southeast Asian metallurgy...[T]he volumes provide not only a detailed report of an important set of data from one of Southeast Asia's most significant sites, but also a synthetic review of what is known about prehistoric metalworking and use in the region."—Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
"White and Hamilton's admirable work... [i]s the result of decades of research and heralds the maturity of a movement away from linear progressive and technologically determinist perspectives in archaeometallurgy. Their work employs and usefully documents the full range of concepts and methods characteristic of AoT in archaeological research, including sociotechnical systems, technical choices, technical styles, life histories, and chaînes opératoires. It situates the evidence under study within a breathtakingly broad context, including plate tectonics, metallography, manufacturing techniques, depositional contexts, mining and smelting sites, and exchange networks. Every chapter is meticulously documented to an extent that will make this work invaluable for practitioners and students alike for many years to come."—Advances in Archaeomaterials
"[T]he soon-to-be four-part publication provides detailed documentation and multifaceted analysis of the evidence for metal production at the sites of Ban Chiang, Ban Tong, Ban Phak Top, and Don Klang, as well as some suggestions on the regional context. Many of the series’ chapters, however, go far beyond what is needed to introduce the material or the analytical results, reviewing theories, suggesting new approaches and different points of view, and discussing principles and issues of archaeological research on technology more broadly. The volumes are thus of interest to a broader readership beyond scholars working in Southeast Asia or on early metallurgy in particular."—Current Anthropology