Developing a new project: the impact of social change on health at the late Iron Age site of Non Ban Jak in Northeast Thailand

Ward, Stacey M., Halcrow, Sian E., Buckley, Hallie R., Higham, Charles F.W., O'Reilly, Dougald J.W., Shewan, Louise, and Domett, Kate M. (2018) Developing a new project: the impact of social change on health at the late Iron Age site of Non Ban Jak in Northeast Thailand. In: Advancing Southeast Asian Archaeology 2016: selected papers from the 2nd SEAMEO SPAFA International Conference. pp. 259-275. From: SEAMO SPAFA International Conference on Southeast Asian Archaeology, 30 May - 2 June 2016, Bangkok, Thailand.

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This paper introduces on-going research by presenting the original proposal for this work. This research seeks to combine archaeological and bioarchaeological analyses, as well as theoretical perspectives from these fields, to obtain an integrated and holistic perspective of social change and its effect on health in prehistory.

This approach will be tested on the archaeological and human skeletal remains from the late Iron Age site of Non Bak Jak in northeast Thailand. Social organization prior to the advent of state society in mainland Southeast Asia has long been a focus of archaeological research. The Iron Age of northeast Thailand (420 BCE-500 CE) has received particular archaeological attention, as rapid social and technological change has been identified in this region during this period. These changes include increasing social complexity, which is often associated with inequality between social groups and deterioration of population health. In contrast, bioarchaeological research in northeast Thailand has largely focused on the periods prior to the Iron Age, leaving the biocultural consequences of these late social changes relatively less well understood. Excavations at Non Ban Jak, a moated settlement and residential burial site with two distinct mounds, have been undertaken from 2011 to 2017. These have provided a well-preserved skeletal sample, unusual for this period in Thailand, making it ideal for investigating health and social change. The project underway aims to explore how a putative rise in social inequality might have affected levels of physiological stress using the holistic approach presented. Social groupings will be identified through spatial analyses of grave wealth, burial practice and location in the Esri ArcGIS programme. This programme uses statistics to identify and explore the patterning and relatedness of spatial data. Dental enamel defects and long bone lengths will provide information on physiological disruptions in growth. It is expected that this work will inform on health and social organization during a period of rapid social transition.

Item ID: 57794
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISBN: 978-616-7961-17-0
Keywords: project development, research approaches, bioarchaeology, Iron Age, Thailand, social change, health/stress, GIS
Date Deposited: 02 May 2019 01:30
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4401 Anthropology > 440103 Biological (physical) anthropology @ 50%
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430102 Archaeology of Asia, Africa and the Americas @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950502 Understanding Asias Past @ 100%
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