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The archaeobotany of Khao Sam Kaeo and Phu Khao Thong

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The Thai-Malay Peninsula lies at the heart of Southeast Asia. Geographically, the narrowest point is forty kilometres and forms a barrier against straightforward navigation from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and vice versa. This would have either led vessels to cabotage the southernmost part of the peninsula or portage overland across the peninsula to avoid circumnavigating. The peninsula made easy crossing points strategic locations commercially and politically. Early movements of people along exchange routes would have required areas for rest, ports, repair of boats and replenishment of goods. These feeder stations may have grown to become entrepĂ´ts and urban centres. This study investigates the archaeobotany of two sites in the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Khao Sam Kaeo and Phukhao Thong. Khao Sam Kaeo is located on the east whereas Phukhao Thong lies on the west of the peninsula and both date to the Late Prehistoric period (ca. 400-200 BC). Khao Sam Kaeo has been identified as the earliest urban site from the Late Prehistoric period in Southeast Asia engaged in trans-Asiatic exchange networks. There is evidence of craft specialisation and material culture that links the site to India, China and the rest of Southeast Asia. Phukhao Thong has similar material culture as Khao Sam Kaeo. The purpose of examining the archaeobotanical results from Khao Sam Kaeo is to add to the understanding of how an early urban site with an active exchange network and specialised craft production would have supported itself. The results provide insights into exchanged foodstuffs and the agricultural base that sustained the different communities at Khao Sam Kaeo: the local population, temporary settlers and transient voyagers. The archaeobotany of Khao Sam Kaeo is compared to the contemporaneous site Phukhao Thong. Phukhao Thong lies closer to the Indian Ocean and has more Indian domesticates in the assemblage.

This talk is part of the Asian Archaeology Group series.

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