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Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 235–282 | Cite as

The later prehistory of mainland Southeast Asia

  • Charles Higham
Article

Abstract

Until the recent expansion of research into the prehistory of mainland Southeast Asia, the development of civilizations employing Indian religious and political concepts had been seen as a major fulcrum in the area's history. The prehistoric sequence in the area is reviewed, with particular attention being paid to evidence for ritual, display, exchange, and ranking behavior within lowland sedentary communities. These date to the two or three millennia preceding Indian contact. It is argued that already by the end of the prehistoric period, there were complex centralized societies with a long tradition of recognizing status differentials among individuals, affiliated groups, and communities. The sequence incorporates the exploitation of rice, and bronze and iron working. The chronology of these innovations is compared with that in China. It is not possible at present to argue for single or multiple origins, but the area of southern China is suggested as a crucial one in further research to resolve these issues.

Key Words

mortuary behavior ranking exchange domestication craft specialization bronze working copper mining iron technology Southeast Asia China 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Higham
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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