Article

Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 227-274

The Origins of the Bronze Age of Southeast Asia

  • Charles HighamAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of Otago Email author 
  • , Thomas HighamAffiliated withOxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford
  • , Roberto CiarlaAffiliated withItalian Institute for Africa and the Orient
  • , Katerina DoukaAffiliated withOxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford
  • , Amphan KijngamAffiliated withFine Arts Department of Thailand
  • , Fiorella RispoliAffiliated withItalian Institute for Africa and the Orient

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Abstract

White and Hamilton (J World Prehist 22: 357–97, 2009) have proposed a model for the origin of the Southeast Asian Bronze Age founded on seven AMS radiocarbon determinations from the Northeast Thai site of Ban Chiang, which would date the initial Bronze Age there to about 2000 BC. Since this date is too early for the derivation of a bronze industry from the documented exchange that linked Southeast Asia with Chinese states during the 2nd millennium BC, they have identified the Seima-Turbino 3rd millennium BC forest-steppe technology of the area between the Urals and the Altai as the source of the Southeast Asian Bronze Age. We challenge this model by presenting a new chronological framework for Ban Chiang, which supports our model that the knowledge of bronze metallurgy reached Southeast Asia only in the late 2nd millennium BC, through contact with the states of the Yellow and Yangtze valleys.

Keywords

Southeast Asia Bronze Age Thailand Ban Non Wat Ban Chiang Shang civilization Seima-Turbino