Late Prehistoric Inter-Regional Exchange Networks Dating Project

Bérénice Bellina1, Emmanuelle Delque-Kolic2, Aude Favereau3, Cristina Castillo4, Laure Dussubieux5

1CNRS National Centre for Scientific Research, France

2LMC14 – CNRS, France

3National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan

4University College London, United Kingdom

5Field Museum Chicago, U.S.A.

The inception of inter-regional exchange networks spans the last centuries BC. This period is marked by political and economic complexity with the emergence of early states, characterised by industries with distant regional feeding and distribution networks. Increasing exchange led to important social change among the many different groups involved. However, most evidence of exchange is still anchored by very broad chronological ranges. There is an overall dearth of radiometric dates in South Asia. In Southeast Asia, due to the work by C. F. Higham and T. Higham, a large number of radiometric dates have provided a firm anchoring for important cultural change. Nevertheless, only a relatively few radiocarbon dates are available for the early Metal Age period. In addition, the Hallstatt Plateau hampers calibration in the 800 BC to 0 AD interval. To try to overcome what is still a lacking temporality, a multi-proxi dating project was initiated by the French Archaeological Mission in Peninsular Thailand-Myanmar (FAMPTM) with the LMC14 department and E. Delque-Kolic. The FAMPTM has obtained 70 radiocarbon dates and more were produced at LMC14 based on selected charcoal from archaeobotany and rice tempered ceramic sherds. The objective is to start building a robust chronological framework to anchor regional networks and the cultural change it entailed across the region. We propose to bypass some of the limitations posed by the vagaries of the Hallstatt Plateau by using Bayesian statistics, combining a significant number of absolute chronological data with relative dating data to further constrain the model. Results presented in this panel dedicated to C.F. Higham, who has been key for establishing a chronologically well-anchored regional archaeology, are still preliminary. It is expected that the longer term project will contribute to a more reliable and precise chronology for the major cross-cultural exchange that have shaped many past social groups in Asia.