Ban Chiang, Northeast Thailand, Volume 2C
The Metal Remains in Regional Context
by Joyce C. White, Elizabeth G. Hamilton
15 color, 29 b/w illus.
This third volume in the series is devoted to presenting and interpreting the metallurgical evidence from Ban Chiang, northeast Thailand, in the broader regional context. Because the production of metal artifacts must engage numerous communities in order to acquire and process the raw materials and then create and distribute products, understanding metals in past societies requires a regional perspective. This is the first book to compile, summarize, and synthesize the English-language copper production and exchange evidence available so far from Thailand and Laos in a thorough and systematic manner.
Chapters by Vincent C. Pigott and Thomas O. Pryce examine in detail the mining and smelting of copper in several sites, and the lead-isotope evidence for the sourcing of artifacts found in two of the consumption sites included in the study. Another chapter compiles the metal consumption evidence, including results of technical studies on prehistoric metals recovered from more than 35 sites excavated in central and northeast Thailand. This compilation demonstrates important regional variation in chaînes opératoires, allowing explication and synthesis of the technological traditions found in this region during prehistory. The review and compilation sheds new light on the social and economic context for the adoption and development of metallurgy in this part of the world. One key insight is that Thailand presents a case for a "community-driven bronze age," where the choices of peaceful local communities, not elites or centralized political entities, shaped how metal technological systems were implemented in this region.
This fresh perspective on the role of metallurgy in ancient societies contributes to an expanded global understanding of how humans have engaged metal technologies, contributing to debunking the conventional paradigm that emphasized a top-down view and a standardized metallurgical sequence, a paradigm that has dominated archeometallurgical studies for the last century or more.
Thai Archaeology Monograph Series, 2C
University Museum Monograph, 153
[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
"As a theoretically rich interpretive case study and regional synthesis that considers in detail social organization and community agency through the lens of metal analyses, this volume is a must-have for archaeologists and archaeology students working in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world. It reminds us to remain open to a range of interpretative options and will prompt new and energetic debates in the region. A contextualized and theoretically sophisticated appraisal of socioeconomic organization is a welcome addition to the literature, particularly for researchers of prehistoric Southeast Asia, including bioarchaeologists, palynologists, and geoarchaeologists, all of whom will benefit from this robust social background for their analyses and interpretations of data."—Asian Perspectivees
"Ban Chiang, Northeast Thailand, Volume 2C provides not only a fresh perspective on the role of metallurgy in ancient societies, but it also presents a clear roadmap for how to constructlarge-scale archaeometallurgy syntheses for interested researchers in other world areas...[T]his book is a significant achievement and will be a useful tool for those interested in the prehistory of Thailand, Southeast Asia, or ancient metallurgy."—Heritage