Lecture: Busy Neighbourhood: Peninsular Thailand and the Network of Trade and Social Interaction in the Gulf of Siam since the Iron Age




This talk provides preliminary observations concerning social developments in Peninsular Thailand that emerged from ancient trade and social interaction networks in the Gulf of Siam. It is based on historical and archaeological data including recently discovered evidence from the Thai peninsula. Archaeological research suggests sites such as Khao Sam Kaeo and Phukhao Thong were trade and production centres for ornaments and other artefacts since the late centuries BCE. It is likely that the ornaments were produced to fulfill a growing market in the Gulf of Siam and beyond to the east. However, the market did not include the Bay of Bengal or India to the west as previously hypothesized. The new evidence points to the existence of a neighbourhood of communities and kingdoms around the Gulf of Siam that evolved into a busy hub of trade to include the passage of people and ideas. Current research results indicate that important kingdoms in Peninsular Thailand in the early historic period only emerged along the Gulf. Later in the 15th century, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya launched campaigns from the vast floodplains of Central Thailand to conquer the Thai Peninsula. Similar to the Funan polity of the 1st – 6th centuries, this was an attempt to control the Gulf network that played a significant role in Peninsular Thailand.


Dr Wannasarn Noonsuk is a lecturer for the PhD Program in Asian Studies and head of the Research Archaeology Unit at Walailak University, Thailand. In 2002, His Majesty the King of Thailand, awarded him the Anandamahidol Scholarship for his graduate studies. Dr Wannasarn received his M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Hawaii and his PhD in History of Art and Archaeology from Cornell University in 2012. He has written several books and articles on the kingdom of Tambralinga and archaeology of Peninsular Thailand.


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Jul 15 2016


10:00 am - 11:30 am


ISEAS Seminar Room 2