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Prehistoric copper production and technological reproduction in the Khao Wong Prachan Valley of central Thailand

Pryce, T.O.; (2009) Prehistoric copper production and technological reproduction in the Khao Wong Prachan Valley of central Thailand. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Employing a technological approach derived from the ‘Anthropology of Technology’ theoretical literature, this thesis concerns the identification and explanation of change in prehistoric extractive metallurgical behaviour in the Khao Wong Prachan Valley of central Thailand. The ‘Valley’ metallurgical complex, amongst the largest in Eurasia, constitutes Southeast Asia’s only documented industrial-scale copper-smelting evidence. The two smelting sites investigated, Non Pa Wai and Nil Kham Haeng, provide an interrupted but analytically useful sequence of metallurgical consumption and production evidence spanning c. 1450 BCE to c. 300 CE. The enormous quantity of industrial waste at these sites suggests they were probably major copper supply nodes within ancient Southeast Asian metal exchange networks. Excavated samples of mineral, technical ceramic, and slag from Non Pa Wai and Nil Kham Haeng were analysed in hand specimen, microstructurally by reflected-light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and chemically by polarising energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence spectrometry ([P]ED-XRF) and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (SEM-EDS). Resulting analytical data were used to generate detailed technological reconstructions of copper smelting behaviour at the two sites, which were refined by a programme of field experimentation. Results indicate a long-term improvement in the technical proficiency of Valley metalworkers, accompanied by an increase in the human effort of copper production. This shift in local ‘metallurgical ethos’ is interpreted as a response to rising regional demand for copper in late prehistory.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Prehistoric copper production and technological reproduction in the Khao Wong Prachan Valley of central Thailand
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology

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