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A prehistoric copper-production centre in central Thailand: its dating and wider implications

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2020

Thomas F.G. Higham
Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, University of Oxford, UK
Andrew D. Weiss
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, USA
Charles F.W. Higham*
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Otago, New Zealand
Christopher Bronk Ramsey
Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, University of Oxford, UK
Jade d'Alpoim Guedes
Scripps Institution of Oceanography & Department of Anthropology, University of California San Diego, USA
Sydney Hanson
Washington State Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation, Olympia, USA
Steven A. Weber
Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Vancouver, USA
Fiorella Rispoli
International Association of Mediterranean and Oriental Studies, Rome, Italy
Roberto Ciarla
International Association of Mediterranean and Oriental Studies, Rome, Italy
Thomas O. Pryce
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Préhistoire et Technologie, Paris, France
Vincent C. Pigott*
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, USA
* Authors for correspondence: ✉ &
* Authors for correspondence: ✉ &


The Khao Wong Prachan Valley of central Thailand is one of four known prehistoric loci of copper mining, smelting and casting in Southeast Asia. Many radiocarbon determinations from bronze-consumption sites in north-east Thailand date the earliest copper-base metallurgy there in the late second millennium BC. By applying kernel density estimation analysis to approximately 100 new AMS radiocarbon dates, the authors conclude that the valley's first Neolithic millet farmers had settled there by c. 2000 BC, and initial copper mining and rudimentary smelting began in the late second millennium BC. This overlaps with the established dates for Southeast Asian metal-consumption sites, and provides an important new insight into the development of metallurgy in central Thailand and beyond.

Research Article
Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2020

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