Archaeological Investigation of the Socio-political Organization of a First Millennium Fortified Town, Kamphaeng Saen, Thailand


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Grants to Individuals in East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History Dissertation Fellowships (North America)




During the first millennium A.D., cities and towns, often surrounded by walls and moats, developed across mainland Southeast Asia. The development of these settlements coincided with increasing exchange between societies in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East Asia. Emerging elites in mainland Southeast Asia capitalized on the expanding settlement sizes and trade connections to expand their power and form more complex systems of political organization. By the seventh century A.D. in central Thailand, one or more complex polities, labeled collectively as Dvaravati, had emerged. However, the economic, social, and political relationships between Dvaravati settlements are not well understood. This research project uses archaeological survey and excavation at the first millennium A.D. fortified town of Kamphaeng Saen to investigate the settlement's political and economic relationships with larger neighboring urban centers. During the fieldwork and analysis, collaboration is taking place between an American PhD student and a Thai archaeologist. Two Thai graduate students from Silpakorn University, Bangkok are participating in the project and gaining experience in systematic archaeological survey, excavation, and research design. Interaction with local residents at the site will be encouraged through employment as field assistants and public presentations of the project’s discoveries.