Technological Innovation, Trade and Exchange in Southeast Asia: Placing the Lopburi Regional Archaeological Project (LoRAP) into a Wider Regional Context

1ISMEO - International Association of Mediterranean and Oriental Studies

2Division of Archaeology, Fine Arts Department

The eastern side of the tectonic depression known as the Central Plain of Thailand includes the Holocenenic alluvial plains of the Lopburi and Pasak rivers, dotted by isolated formations of residual rocks, and, to the east-northeast, the mountain chains of the Petchabun-Dong Phaya Yen range. This extremely favourable landscape offered our ancestors abundant edible and industrial resources (e.g., game, fishes, freshwater molluscs, wood, metamorphic rocks, including the metalliferous ones) that encouraged the development of prehistoric manufacturing centres dispersed in the Lopburi and Pasak plains of Central Thailand. The Lopburi Regional Archaeological Project has produced evidence for the production of ceramics and terracotta, semi-precious stone and shell ornaments, as well as stone and shell “adzes” in the region. It has also demonstrated the inter-regional procurement/importation of marine molluscs for the technologically sophisticated manufacturing of shell ornamentation, starting in the mid-1st millennium BCE (c. 3600 BP) and continuing in the following millennium, in the last centuries of which the material evidence present in the archaeological record testify to contact with the subcontinent. Similarities in the ceramic, lapidary and metallurgical techniques applied in southern China and northern Vietnam raises interesting questions about the transmission of technological innovations across Southeast Asia, human connectivity and the exchange of ideas as well as material culture along North-South (Eastern Asia-MSEA) and East-West (Subcontinent-MSEA) communication corridors.

This session encourages contributions on manufacturing and craft production in prehistory from the Lopburi region and across Southeast Asia. The session hopes to raise awareness of the wealth of evidence present in Southeast Asia for trade and exchange, manufacturing specialisation and the diffusion of new technologies for the production of a range of material culture.




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