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The chronology of the Iron Age 'moats' of Northeast Thailand

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This paper reports the first chronometric study of the 'moats' of the abundant mounded Iron Age sites of northeast Thailand. Here AMS 14C dates and TL dates are reported which indicate that the moats date from a short period in the Mid to Late Iron Age, before being infilled. The dates also contain preliminary evidence for the chronology of landscape change which is critical to the understanding of the Iron Age occupation of this region.
... The sequential layers in the same occupation period seem to suggest that the use of the area was intensive over a long period of time. Available dates of the end of Iron Age from several sites (McGrath and Boyd, 2001;Higham et al., 2007) provide a reasonably consistent picture of a closure date for the Iron Age. Each site contains its own chronology, and the conformity to a singular event cannot be assumed. ...
... This was, globally, a time of climate change; it was assumed that climate change (possibly with deforestation) caused a socio-environmental crisis. Evidence of alluvial infilling and a significant change of fluvial regime (Boyd et al., 1999;McGrath and Boyd, 2001) were also taken to reflect the crisis. Boyd and Chang (2010) developed an alternative model predicting socioenvironmental changes, suggesting that the Iron Age archaeological record continues a long time period between dynamic social and environmental conditions. ...
... Another two moat features are clearly visible around the Ban Non Wat site ( Figure 3) and may indicate that another water body had been constructed after infilling of the previous channels. According to McGrath and Boyd (2001), the moat bank of Ban Non Wat indicates an older construction phase around 200 BC to 0, from earliest Mid to Late Iron Age. The moats appear to have in-filled rapidly, with channels closest to the mounds being overtopped by rapidly expanding occupation mounds, in some cases shortly after construction. ...
... The sequential layers in the same occupation period seem to suggest that the use of the area was intensive over a long period of time. Available dates of the end of Iron Age from several sites (McGrath and Boyd, 2001;Higham et al., 2007) provide a reasonably consistent picture of a closure date for the Iron Age. Each site contains its own chronology, and the conformity to a singular event cannot be assumed. ...
... This was, globally, a time of climate change; it was assumed that climate change (possibly with deforestation) caused a socio-environmental crisis. Evidence of alluvial infilling and a significant change of fluvial regime (Boyd et al., 1999;McGrath and Boyd, 2001) were also taken to reflect the crisis. Boyd and Chang (2010) developed an alternative model predicting socioenvironmental changes, suggesting that the Iron Age archaeological record continues a long time period between dynamic social and environmental conditions. ...
... Another two moat features are clearly visible around the Ban Non Wat site ( Figure 3) and may indicate that another water body had been constructed after infilling of the previous channels. According to McGrath and Boyd (2001), the moat bank of Ban Non Wat indicates an older construction phase around 200 BC to 0, from earliest Mid to Late Iron Age. The moats appear to have in-filled rapidly, with channels closest to the mounds being overtopped by rapidly expanding occupation mounds, in some cases shortly after construction. ...
Article
Chronological framework can be used to identify the distribution of occupation patterns. This study was based on fourteen radiocarbon samples from the eight excavation pits at Ban Non Wat and Nong Hua Raet archaeological sites. The chronology of the cultural layers was developed using AMS radiocarbon dating to supplement existing data, specifically to examine the dating of the end of the Iron Age occupation. The objective of this study was to continue testing the premise that the end of the Iron Age on the Mun river floodplain in Northeast Thailand that is better defined as either a singular more or less contemporaneous de-population event characterized by widespread abandonment of settlements or a gradual transition from dispersing a rural settlement to more concentrated urban style of settlement. The results support the existing chronological framework of the study area and suggest that the end of the Iron Age in the Mun River valley is better defined as a gradual transition from dispersed rural settlements to a more concentrated urban style settlement. Occupation commenced at the center of the mound of Ban Non Wat during the Neolithic period, and gradually spread radially to the margin by the Iron Age. Occupation at the neighboring site of Nong Hua Raet commenced during the Iron Age period, parallel to that at Ban Non Wat.
... Radiometric dating indicates that bank construction and the active infilling of the sediments within the moats occurred during the later Iron Age occupation [12]. Importantly, the archaeological sites are closely associated with these channels, which, in places, can be found under, and in-filled by, subsequent archaeological sediments; they can be shown to have been present at the time of the site's occupation and later overtopped by expanding occupation material [13]. ...
... Although the site of HI100 is at a different location, its sedimentological characters are similar to those at G104, suggesting a similar origin for the sediments and also suggesting a reasonably uniform nature of the sediments throughout the sites, and, importantly, a common geological provenance. Such findings align well with previous studies and recognized that the sources of the archaeological sediments on the archaeological sites of this region in different localities and contexts within this study area, were influenced by the surrounding floodplain [11][12][13][14][15]. While there is some differentiation between sample types, the overall impression is of a close similarity between channel sediments and the various archaeological sediments (Figure 7). ...
... These observations fit with many years of detailed archaeological excavation, which has revealed complex site sedimentary histories [11][12][13][14][15][16]. Such work has provided evidence for environmental change and the human-environment relationships associated with these that allow us to start developing deeper and more nuanced understandings of socio-environmental processes [14,15]. ...
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This research examines the sedimentological evidence of human occupation on different cultural layers at the prehistoric archaeological sites in northeast Thailand. This study focuses on the sedimentological characters of stratigraphic layers identified at the prehistoric occupation sites of Ban Non Wat and Nong Hua Raet, to demonstrate the capacity of such analyses to elucidate the modification of sediments by past anthropogenic activity, and eventually to contribute to an enhanced understanding of the behaviour of ancient people. The primary intention of this paper is, therefore, to point out potential uses of particle analysis in identifying human-landscape interventions, testing whether meaningful differentiation is possible, and if not, whether this may nevertheless be used to understand the sedimentological relationships between different features. The study finds that although there is relatively little differentiation between sediments across the archaeological site, some insight is possible in identifying relationships between the natural sediments of the floodplain, the channels associated with the archaeological sites, and the archaeological sediments themselves. It is, for example, now possible to raise new questions regarding the construction history of the sites, the history of human behaviour at these sites, socio-spatial relationships between paleo-social activity and natural resources, and fine-scale landscape associations between sites.
... Since the encircling earthworks imply a relationship between hydrological conditions and prehistoric settlement, it is reasonable to assume there was a particular association between environment and society in this region. Environmental examination of these sites and their landscapes (Moore 1988a(Moore , b, 1992Boyd et al. 1999a, b;Boyd and McGrath 2001a, b;McGrath and Boyd 2001;Boyd 2004Boyd , 2007Boyd , 2008Boyd and Habberfield-Short 2007;Habberfield-Short and Boyd 2007;McGrath et al. 2008) has progressed to a point where integration with the archaeology is possible (Figure 1). We now discuss the geoarchaeological and archaeological materials and data specific to our case study before returning to the wider implications of the case study in later sections of this paper. ...
... Initial recognition of the sites was founded on the identification of encircling earthworks interpreted as defensive and water-management features. Subsequent geoarchaeological study (Boyd et al. 1999a, b;McGrath and Boyd 2001;McGrath et al. 2008) developed a model of the earliest settlement being along prehistoric rivers. Importantly, these rivers represented a period where the floodplain was better watered than at present, and where the rivers that did flow across the floodplain were more abundant, of a different form, and differently located to those at present. ...
... On listera ici quelques noms : Obluang (Santoni et al., 1986), Spirit Cave (Gorman, 1972), Tham Pha Chan (Bronson & White, 1992), Banyan Caves (Reynolds, 1992), Ong Bah (Sorensen, 1988), Khao Talu et Head Caves (Pookajorn, 1984), Pak Om et Buang Baeb (Srisuchat, 1987), Tham Kao Khi (Reynolds, 1989). Dans le cadre de nos travaux (Zeitoun et al., 2008) Pour l'Âge du Fer (Tankitikon, 1987 ;Prishanchit, et al. 1988 ;Pautreau, 1997 ;Saengjan, et al. 1997 ;Pautreau et al., 2001 ;Mc Grath & Boyd, 2001), pour l'Âge du Bronze (Solheim, 1968 ;Pautreau et al., 1997 ; pour le Néolithique (Sangvichien, 1966 ;Douglas, 1997 ;Pietrusewsky, 1974Pietrusewsky, , 1982Pietrusewsky, et 1997Higham & Kijngan, 1982) et pour le Mésolithique (Sorensen, 1967 ;Jacob, 1969). Ces travaux archéologiques ont parfois été assortis d'études biologiques assez poussées des restes humains, mais n'ont pas été traités de manière intégrée suivant les méthodes actuelles de l'anthropologie funéraire. ...
... Non Ban Jak is located in Amphoe Non Sung of Nakhon Ratchasima Province, northeast Thailand ( Fig. 30.1) . The site was first identified in 1996 through pedestrian survey and has since been excavated and described in detail in a number of publications (Boyd et al. 1999;Boyd and McGrath 2001;McGrath and Boyd 2001;Higham 2011bHigham , 2014aHigham , 2014bHigham and Rispoli 2014;Higham 2015aHigham , 2016 Non Ban Jak is characterized by an eastern and western mound divided by a shallow depression. This is unusual, although also present at the nearby site Non Muang Kao (Fig. 30.1). ...
... The first season of excavations opened an area measuring 8 m 2 on the eastern mound, while the following three seasons have uncovered 35 m by 10 m that began in the low-lying area and climbed onto the western mound. The radiocarbon determinations place moat construction in the fourth to fifth centuries AD terra australis 45 (McGrath and Boyd 2001). Over 40 C 14 dates from rice, human bone and shells from occupation and mortuary contexts indicate that initial settlement took place in the third to fourth centuries AD. ...
... Hàng trăm các ví dụ chứng thực cho bản chất then chốt của việc bảo tồn và điều khiển nguồn nước (Moore 1992: 26). Nhiều di tích cư trú lớn có thành lũy và hào bao quanh của thiên niên kỷ I BC được tìm thấy nhiều nơi ở Campuchia, Miến Điện, Thái Lan và Việt Nam ngày nay, mặc dù chức năng và niên đại chính xác của một số nơi là chưa rõ ràng (Albrecht và nnk 2000; Dega 1999; Fletcher và nnk 2008; Higham 2002; McGrath and Boyd 2001; Moore 1988 Moore , 1989 Moore , 1992). Những nơi cư trú này, cho thấy mức độ của tính biến đổi quan trọng, như là một phần của một loại rất phổ biến mà trong đó các cộng đồng địa phương tận dụng rộng rãi các công trình đắp đất và các thành phần hào bao. ...
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