Ban Chiang Prehistoric Settlement National Museum

3000 Year Old Human Skeleton At Ban Chiang

  • Ban Chiang in Udon Thani Province (50 kilometers east of Udon Thani City) is the remains of a prehistoric settlement situated on a hill safe from the flooding of the rainy season and surrounded by lowlands. In 1992 UNESCO declared Ban Chiang a World Heritage Site. Carbon dating of soil samples and objects found at different levels indicate that the first prehistoric people lived here 5,600 years ago and occupied the site for 3000 years. Evidence of material use and funeral rituals reflect changes over this time in their society.
  • Visitors here can inspect the site diggings and the Museum which has an excellent collection of skeletons, pottery, bronze objects, glass bead jewellery and other artifacts dug up from this site.

Classifying 3000 years of the Ban Chiang settlement:

  • Archeologists classify this past culture into 3 periods and 6 sub periods according to evidence of funeral rites and customs.
These periods are:
  • The early Ban Chiang Period 5-600 to 3000 years ago
  • The Middle Ban Chiang Period 3000- to 2,300 years ago, and
  • The Late Ban Chiang Period, 2,300 to 1,800 years ago.

The Early Ban Chiang Period

  • During the Early Period the villagers cultivated rice and raised domestic animals. In this period 3 types of funeral rites have been identified, children's corpses were placed in large pots and then buried, adults were laid on their backs and pottery was placed over their heads or legs or they were laid with their knees bent with or without burial treasures. During this 2,600 year period pottery changed style and is classified into 4 groups based on the periods 5,600 to 4,500 years, 4,500 to 4,000 years, 4,000 to 3,500 years and 3,500 to 3,000 years. Each of these periods has distinctive styles in shape and ornamentation. From the period 4,000 to 3,500 was discovered the oldest bronze lance which was found buried with human bones and pottery.

The Middle Ban Chiang Period

  • In this period we see metal tools and metal ornaments. The metal is bronze made of copper and tin. The tin is thought to have come from Laos.

The Late Ban Chiang Period

  • During the Late Ban Chiang Period iron was used for tools and bronze of finer craftsmanship was used for ornaments. Samples of Ban Chiang pottery and artifacts can also be seen at National Museum Bangkok for those unable to go to Ban Chiang.

Ban Chiang is a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO

  • The UNESCO report designating Ban Chiang as a World Heritage Site is illuminating, '' Until the 1960's South-east Asia was considered to have been a culturally backward area in prehistory. The generally accepted view was that its cultural development resulted from external influences, principally from China to the north and India to the west. Recent archaeological work at Nok Nok Tha and later, Ban Chiang on the Khorat plateau of north-east Thailand has demonstrated this view to be incorrect: this area of modem Thailand has been shown by excavation and field survey to have been the centre of an independent, and vigorous, cultural development in the 4th millennium BC which shaped contemporary social and cultural evolution over much of southeast Asia and beyond. into the Indonesian archipelago. Settlement of the Khorat plateau began around 3600 BC. The settlers came from the neighbouring lowlands, bringing with them a hunter-gatherer economy that was beginning to develop sedentary farming, with domesticated cattle, pigs, and chickens and an elementary form of dry-rice cultivation.
  • The settled village life of this Early Period at Ban Chiang lasted until c. 1000 BC. Agricultural methods were refined and improved, along with other skills such as house construction and pottery manufacture. The equipment of burials reflects an increasing social complexity. Of especial importance was the growing use of bronze, for weapons and personal ornament in the earlier phase but spreading to more utilitarian applications in the later phases.
  • The Middle Period ( 1000-500/300 BC ) was notable for the introduction of wet-rice farming, as evidenced by the presence of waterbuffalo bones, and technological developments in ceramic and metal production, It was a period of considerable prosperity, as shown by the grave-goods, and one which saw the introduction of iron into common use.
  • In the Late Period ( 500/300 BC-AD 200/300 ) there was further social and technological development. especially in ceramic design and production. Although occupation appears to have ended at Ban Chiang in the 3rd century AD, at other sites in the region, such as Non Maung and Ban Prasat, settlement was continuous into the 16th century and later. Ban Chiang is considered to have been the principal settlement in this area of the Khorat plateau and has given its name to a distinctive archaeological culture. Scores of contemporary sites have been discovered in the region, at several of which excavations have been carried out.