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The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia: New Insight on Social Change from Ban Non Wat

  • Charles Higham (a1)


The expansion of copper-base metallurgy in the mainland of Eurasia began in the Near East and ended in Southeast Asia. The recognition of this Southeast Asian metallurgical province followed in the wake of French colonial occupation of Cambodia and Laos in the nineteenth century. Subsequently, most research has concentrated in Thailand, beginning in the 1960s. A sound chronology is the prerequisite to identifying both the origins of the Bronze Age, and the social impact that metallurgy may have had on society. This article presents the revolutionary results of excavations at the site of Ban Non Wat in northeast Thailand within the broader cultural context of Southeast Asian prehistory, concluding that the adoption of copper-base metallurgy from the eleventh century BC coincided with the rise of wealthy social aggrandizers.



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