The Thailand Archaeometallurgy Project: A Holistic Approach to Characterizing Metallurgy's Societal Impact in Prehistoric Southeast Asia

Research Team Seminar

April 29–May 1, 2014

The Thailand Archaeometallurgy Project: A Holistic Approach to Characterizing Metallurgy's Societal Impact in Prehistoric Southeast AsiaThe Thailand Archaeometallurgy Project: A Holistic Approach to Characterizing Metallurgy's Societal Impact in Prehistoric Southeast AsiaResearch Team Seminar Co-chaired by Vincent Pigott, Consulting Scholar, Asian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Judy Voelker, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy, Northern Kentucky University, April 29–May 1, 2014. Photograph by William Geoghegan.The Thailand Archaeometallurgy Project: A Holistic Approach to Characterizing Metallurgy's Societal Impact in Prehistoric Southeast AsiaResearch Team Seminar Co-chaired by Vincent Pigott, Consulting Scholar, Asian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Judy Voelker, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy, Northern Kentucky University, April 29–May 1, 2014. Photograph by William Geoghegan.

The Thailand Archaeometallurgy Project's (TAP) excavations of three prehistoric copper-production sites in the Khao Wong Prachan Valley were conducted from 1986–1994. TAP research has been instrumental in renewing the moribund debate on the origins of mainland Southeast Asian metallurgy, now being hotly contested in archaeological literature. This seminar assembled the multinational team for the first time in one place to discuss their recent synthesis of inter- and intra-site chronology and context and to determine what analyses remain to be completed.

TAP is a joint collaboration of the Thai Fine Arts Department and the University of Pennsylvania Museum (UPM) under the co-direction of PIs Surapol Natapintu (Silpakorn University, Department of Archaeology, Bangkok, retired) and Vincent C. Pigott, Consulting Scholar, Asian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Seminar co-chairs reported the following outcomes and next steps:

  • Excellent synergy developed between specialists in terms of building an environmental overview of the prehistoric KWPV over millennia. Collaboration on a joint article with Kealhofer, Weber, and Liu remains under discussion.
  • A plan is in place to begin contextualizing and preliminary dating of sample groups under study from the three sites: Mudar, Pigott, Weiss and Voelker to initiate it.
  • A discussion of hosting a TAP panel at a future SAA meeting, perhaps 2016 or 2017 is ongoing.
  • The creation of an outline and timeline for the Non Pa Wai final report preparation. This site is the furthest along in terms of its data analysis.
  • Significantly, the Seminar imbued the team with renewed enthusiasm for the project.

Since the close of the seminar, participants have made a number of presentations on the TAP. They include:

  • 2015. Liu, Chin-hsin. “Human Dietary Responses to the Ecological Instability of Prehistoric Khao Wang Prachan Valley, Thailand: Corroboration Between Paleobotany and Skeletal Chemistry.” 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, CA.
  • 2015. Panel Session Chaired by Vincent C. Pigott: Recent Advances in the Archaeology of Central Thailand. 15th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists, Univérsite Paris Ouest Nanterre la Défense, Paris, France. Papers presented by SAR seminar Participants included:

    • Pigott, Vincent C. “The Thailand Archaeometallurgy Project in 2015: Reconstructing Past Life-ways Among Prehistoric Mining/Metallurgical Communities in Khao Wong Prachan Valley, Central Thailand.”
    • Voelker, Judy. “Characterizing Prehistoric Ceramic Bivalve Casting Molds from the Khao Wong Prachan Valley, Central Thailand.”
    • Tighe, Matthew, Lisa Kealhofer, Peter Grave, and Vincent C. Pigott. “Fingerprinting Metal-working in Central Thailand: A Geochemical Survey Approach.”
    • Liu, Chin-hsin. “Impacts of Social Changes on Human Biology: The Khao Wong Prachan Valley, Thailand.”
Vincent Pigott, Chair Consulting Scholar, Asian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Judy Voelker, Chair Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy, Northern Kentucky University
Lisa Kealhofer Professor, Department of Anthropology and Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University
Chin-hsin Liu Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Appalachian State University
Karen Mudar Archaeologist, Archaeology Program, National Park Service
Steve Weber Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Vancouver
Andy Weiss TAP GIS Specialist and Fish Program GIS Lead, Fish Program/Science Division, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Sponsored by National Science Foundation

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