SESSION 35

Wooden Coffin Cultures in the Highlands of Southeast Asia and South China: Comparing Regional Archaeological Records

Rasmi Shoocongdej1, Ji Xueping2, Stephen Chia3

1Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Archaeology, Silpakorn University

2Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

3Center for Global Archaeological Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia

Over the last two decades or so, our knowledge of the wooden or log coffin cultures has increased dramatically both locally as well as regionally in South China, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Evidence from DNA analysis of ancient human remains from these coffins indicates a complex hybridity between the ancient ancestry of Austroasiatic, Daic, Hmong-Mien language speakers and present-day populations. The new immigrants brought their cultures and beliefs through intercultural exchanges with the local populations. The mortuary practices of wooden or log coffins in the caves and rock shelters were adopted and showed great variability. Yet, their inter-regional relationships remain highly scattered and neglected, until recently. The aims of this session are to compare the variability of wooden or log coffin cultures at a regional perspective, and to explore and discuss new data and understanding of the intercultural relationships between highland Southeast Asia and the South China regions in the late prehistoric and early historic periods (2500 - 1100 BP). Indeed, archaeological knowledge in the highland regions will advance our understanding of the human past in terms of migrations, social networks, ideologies, and cultures through wooden or log coffin mortuary practices. We welcome contributions on the following issues related to wooden or log coffin cultures, in particular, current research and new findings from field and research projects using interdisciplinary approaches, theoretical and methodological techniques, and comparative ethnographic studies.