Archive for August, 2008

Burma’s Shan and Kachin States – No Archeology?

August 28, 2008
Shan Landscape

Shan Landscape

North of Thailand is Burma’s Shan State, called the Shan States in plural going a little further back in recent history. North of this is Kachin State. Looking on Wikipedia we find no archeological information in either of these states. It’s interesting as through these, at least the Shan State, would have been the migration routes of the Tai, Bamar and Mon peoples. Further south we can pick up the movement by the cities they built. I do wonder if under the vegetation we have lost cities going back to pre-history. Where’s Indiana Jones when you need him.


Brief Introduction to Tai Kingdoms

August 14, 2008
Sukhothai ruins

Sukhothai ruins

The Tai people were moving southwards into Laos and Thailand from northwest China, probably being squeezed out by the Chinese Han people. They had mastered upland rice agriculture so they started to settle in the northern hill country of both these lands. This was a fairly recent migration and we don’t really pick up their story much until the 11th. Century and the Sukhothai Kingdom.

By the 12th. Century we see the movement of Tais further south and the founding of what would be the Thai kingdom’s capital of Ayutthaya. The ethnic groups which would have been there originally were Mons and Khmers but we can suspect there was quite heavy Tai integration with these peoples.

Ayutthaya was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767 and the capital of Siam moved south, first to Thonburi and later to Bangkok. The southern movement of the Tais into the central plains of Thailand was probably supported by their ability to farm rice in these lowlands. Irrigation and drainage became the tools of the Tais as they bought more land into cultivation and this can be seen at Ayutthaya and even more so in the Bangkok area.

Northeast Thailand

August 5, 2008

Northeast Thailand, Isan, is mostly on the flat part of the Korat Plateau. Two bits of information that came my way last week got me thinking about the area in the times of the Khmer Empire. One was a rough map of known Khmer ruins on the plateau and the other was a UK TV program talking about the distances between early English market towns. These were fairly repeatable with a plus and minus of about 30%.

Is it possible that could work out a distance like this on the Khmer settlements on the plateau? In other words, fill in the gaps between known settlements with new discoveries. It’s an interesting thought. If the distance was about a day’s march that would be a good start. Of course the difference between England and Isan is that the area has been under tropical jungle and then ploughed up for agriculture rather than the fairly constant settlements of the English countryside.