Historical Archaeology of Beikthano

Independent Scholar (SOAS Alphawood Alumni), Myanmar

The ancient cities of Pyu in the urban landscape of upper Burma are situated alongside the Ayeyarwaddy River Valley. This paper discusses recent archaeological research on the Bagan period of Beikthano, a former Pyu city located in the Magway region of Myanmar. The project investigated how the archaeology compared with previous interpretations of the site and period, Burmese chronicles, and information sourced from contemporary foreign records. Evidence includes stucco fragments on the Kyaung-gyi-gone (KKG-21) that are stylistically similar to figures on monument no. 995 (the Kubyauk or Bo-Cho-Mi temple) in Bagan. There are also types and designs of pottery fragments including spouted jars and bowls are comparable to early Bagan period styles. Overall, the survey, excavation, and assessment by the Department of Archaeology of the structure, bricks and pottery of Test-4 and BTO-39 supports the interpretation of early Bagan period activity reported in 2016 by Lin Tun Kyi, with further assessment forthcoming by E. Moore, Win Maung and Win Kyaing at Beikthano. These two sites (Test-4 and BTO-39) are located immediately south of the seasonal lake or large in-gyi. This presentation focuses on how the excavations at Beikthano inform about settlement occupation during the period of transformation from Pyu to Burma. It concludes by proposing the creation of an eco-heritage zone around the in-gyi, taking advantage of the numerous canals within this watershed that draw from, or drain into, the in-gyi in the northwest part of Beikthano’s walled area.