Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Robert H. Dyson, Jr.


Ban Chiang is a prehistoric site in northeast Thailand which was excavated in 1974 and 1975 under the direction of Chester Gorman of The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania and Pisit Charoenwongsa of the Fine Arts Department of Thailand. The excavators were only able to publish a preliminary report prior to the death of Gorman in 1981. Since the publication of the preliminary report in 1976, it became evident that revisions in the preliminary chronology were necessary, particularly for the dating of the appearance of bronze and iron found at the site.

The main goal of this dissertation is to develop a revised chronology for the prehistoric deposit at Ban Chiang based on a stratigraphic interpretation of burial ceramics and radiocarbon dates. A relative chronology of three Periods and ten ceramic phases is proposed. A radiocarbon chronology extending from the fourth millennium B.C. to the early first millennium A.D. is based on the thirty three charcoal dates from the site. The ceramic and absolute chronologies are compared with other evidence excavated from the region and a reasonably close fit is found. Concerning the initial controversy over the dating of metals, it is concluded that 2000 B.C. is not an unreasonable estimate for the appearance of bronze in the region, and that iron had appeared by 500 B.C. or earlier.

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