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Radiocarbon Dates from Jar and Coffin Burials of the Cardamom Mountains Reveal a Unique Mortuary Ritual in Cambodia's Late- to Post-Angkor Period (15th–17th Centuries AD)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2016

Nancy Beavan*
Affiliation:
Department of Anatomy, University of Otago Medical School, PO Box 913, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Sian Halcrow
Affiliation:
Department of Anatomy, University of Otago Medical School, PO Box 913, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Bruce McFadgen
Affiliation:
School of Maori Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Derek Hamilton
Affiliation:
SUERC Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, East Kilbride, Scotland
Brendan Buckley
Affiliation:
Tree-Ring Laboratory, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, New York, USA
Tep Sokha
Affiliation:
Ceramics Conservation Laboratory, Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Louise Shewan
Affiliation:
Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Ouk Sokha
Affiliation:
Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia
Stewart Fallon
Affiliation:
Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
John Miksic
Affiliation:
Southcast Asian Studies Program, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Richard Armstrong
Affiliation:
Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Dougald O'Reilly
Affiliation:
School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University, Australia
Kate Domett
Affiliation:
James Cook University, Queensland, Australia
K R Chhem
Affiliation:
Institute of History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany
*
Corresponding author. Email: nancy.beavan@anatomy.otago.ac.nz.
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Abstract

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We present the first radiocarbon dates from previously unrecorded, secondary burials in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. The mortuary ritual incorporates nautical tradeware ceramic jars and log coffins fashioned from locally harvested trees as burial containers, which were set out on exposed rock ledges at 10 sites in the eastern Cardamom Massif. The suite of 28 14C ages from 4 of these sites (Khnorng Sroal, Phnom Pel, Damnak Samdech, and Khnang Tathan) provides the first estimation of the overall time depth of the practice. The most reliable calendar date ranges from the 4 sites reveals a highland burial ritual unrelated to lowland Khmer culture that was practiced from cal AD 1395 to 1650. The time period is concurrent with the 15th century decline of Angkor as the capital of the Khmer kingdom and its demise about AD 1432, and the subsequent shift of power to new Mekong trade ports such as Phnom Penh, Udong, and Lovek. We discuss the Cardamom ritual relative to known funerary rituals of the pre- to post-Angkorian periods, and to similar exposed jar and coffin burial rituals in Mainland and Island Southeast Asia.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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Radiocarbon Dates from Jar and Coffin Burials of the Cardamom Mountains Reveal a Unique Mortuary Ritual in Cambodia's Late- to Post-Angkor Period (15th–17th Centuries AD)
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Radiocarbon Dates from Jar and Coffin Burials of the Cardamom Mountains Reveal a Unique Mortuary Ritual in Cambodia's Late- to Post-Angkor Period (15th–17th Centuries AD)
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