Searchable metals databases
Downloadable metals databases and codebooks
Ban Chiang web site
SEA Archaeological bibliography

The Ban Chiang Metals Project Database

Chronology
Artifact summary table
Artifact types
Glossary of terms
Citation guide
map of Southeast Asia

Using this web site

This page briefly describes the metal and metal-related artifacts from the prehistoric sites of Ban Chiang, Ban Phak Top, Ban Tong, and Don Klang in Northeast Thailand. For a fuller discussion of Ban Chiang and the Ban Chiang Project, go to the Ban Chiang web site. To access a searchable database of the provenience and analytical data from the metals and metal-related artifacts from the four sites, go to the searchable database. To download comma-delimited, Access 2000, or Filemaker Pro 8 versions of the databases to manipulate in your own programs, go to the downloadable databases. For access to the searchable Southeast Asian Archaeological Bibliography (9700+ references and counting), go to the Bibliography.

The archaeological sites

The site of Ban Chiang on the Khorat Plateau of northeast Thailand was excavated in the 1970s by Dr. Chester Gorman of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Pisit Charoenwongsa of the Thai Department of Fine Arts . The discoveries at Ban Chiang, along with those at the nearby site of Non Nok Tha, revolutionized the understanding of Southeast Asian prehistory, demonstrating that bronze metallurgy was practiced in a village setting as early as 2000 B.C., over a thousand years earlier than had previously been assumed. Because of its importance in Southeast Asian archaeology, Ban Chiang has been named a World Heritage Site.

Ban Chiang is best known for its beautiful prehistoric pottery, but archaeologists also have recovered literally tons of pots and potsherds, metal, stone, soil, charcoal, animal bone, and human skeletons.  Some of these materials have been thoroughly analyzed, such as the metals, the crucibles, and the skeletal remains. The results of the analyses of the metals and the crucibles are presented in the links on this site; for downloadable files of the skeletal data, go to human remains.

In addition to Ban Chiang, three other sites, Ban Phak Top, Ban Tong, and Don Klang, were test-excavated in the late 1970s by William Schauffler, a University of Pennsylvania researcher.

This site presents in a searchable form the provenience and analytical data for all the metal and metal-related (molds, crucibles, and slag) artifacts from the excavations of Ban Chiang (two separate locales), Ban Phak Top, Ban Tong, and Don Klang.

 

Table 1. Ban Chiang Chronology

Period
Burial Phase
Working date range
Late Period (LP) X c. 300 B.C.-A.D. 200
IX
Middle Period (MP) VIII c. 900-300 B.C.
VII
VI
Early Period (EP) upper V c. 1700-900 B.C.
lower IV c. 2100-1700 B.C.
III
II (1st metal, c. 2000 B.C.)
I
Initial Period (occupation before Burial Phase I)   ?-c. 2100 B.C.

Citation guide

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Table 2. Metal Artifacts

  Ban Chiang Ban Phak Top Ban Tong Don Klang
Late Period-Protohistoric
4 copper-base (Cu)
12 iron (Fe)

3 Cu
2 Fe
4 Cu
1 Fe
Late Period
66 Cu
52 Fe
6 Cu
3 Fe

82 Cu
12 Fe
Middle Period-Late Period
37 Cu
15 Fe

7 Cu

Middle Period
68 Cu
23 Fe
2 bimetallic

19 Cu

Early Period-Middle Period
50 Cu
1 Fe

_
3 Cu
Early Period

74 Cu
2 (intrusive) (Fe)

9 Cu
85 Cu

Totals
296 Cu
105 Fe
2 Cu-Fe
15 Cu
3 Fe
114 Cu
2 Fe
89 Cu
13 Fe

Citation guide

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The artifacts

The Metal artifacts from the four sites were classified into nine groups. Metal-related artifacts were classified
into three groups. To see tables showing the data about kind of metal, period, and context for artifacts in each
artifact class, click on the image for each class.

For definitions, see glossary (pdf).


bangles

 

Bangles, including rings, bracelets, anklets, and solid necklaces.

 

winged adze

 

Adzes/tillers. All examples are socketed.



 

curved blade

Blades, both socketed and tanged.

 

 

 

bronze spearpoint

Points, both socketed and tanged.

 

 

bell or rattle

Bells, most of which were small and designed to slip over a bangle or cord.




 

Wires/rods: straight lengths of metal of unknown function. Some wires are very fine, with diameters of 1mm or less.

 

hook

 

bbbbbbMiscellaneous artifacts, ranging from hooks to cleft balls.

 

 

flat fragment

Flat pieces, obviously shaped and part of an artifact.

 

 

 

amorphous piece

Amorphous pieces. Most were small and were probably the result of accidental splashing during casting or other fabrication procedures.

 

 

The Metal-related artifacts consisted of

crucible

 

Crucibles: small ceramic vessels used for smelting or melting metal.

 

 

fragment of a mold

Molds for casting artifacts. Only a few fragmentary molds were found at the four sites.

 

 

slag

Slag: the siliceous waste product of smelting and melting. It results when non-metallic materials in the ore or metal run off and solidify.

 

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Copyrighted to the Ban Chiang Project, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

last updated 1 December 2009 EGH