The ceramic chronology of Angkor Borei, Takeo province, southern Cambodia

Bong, Sovath
Griffin, P Bion
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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This dissertation reviews several different sources (i.e., local and foreign documents and archaeological data) in an effort to define and understand the settlement of ancient Angkor Borei, Takeo province, Cambodia, between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500. These sources include Chinese documentaries and inscriptions, and data from an archaeological excavation (AB4) undertaken in 1996 by the Lower Mekong Archaeological Project (LOMAP). Based on the descriptions of early Chinese document records, many Khmer and non-Khmer historians believe that Angkor Borei may have been a capital of one the earliest state/kingdoms in Southeast Asia. As early as the third century A.D., two Chinese diplomats documented the kingdom of Funan located west of Lin-yi in a great bay of the sea. The capitol was 500 li from the sea. On the basis of this account, many historians (Coedes, Briggs, Vickery, etc.) speculate that either Angkor Borei or Ba Phnom was the capitol of the Funan kingdom and Oc Eo was its international port city. Pierre Paris, using investigative aerial photography taken by Victor Goloubew, suggested that there was a canal running from Angkor Borei to Oc Eo in southern Vietnam. The actual site of Angkor Borei as we see it today is on a floodplain surrounded by a wall and an inner and an outer moat. A currently occupied village is built on top of this ancient city. Potsherds and architectural construction remains are scattered across and below the surface of this site. This research presented in this paper is divided into three phases: 1) a review of our knowledge of the site of Angkor Borei based on available documents (Chinese written records, inscriptions, early French archaeological investigation, etc); 2) classification of the ceramic collection of Angkor Borei according to shape, form, decoration, color, wall thickness, paste and other diagnostic characteristics; and 3) construction of the chronological sequences of AB4 and the site of Angkor Borei in general. Through a study of the ceramic collection from the AB4's excavation in 1996 and by use of radiometric dates, this study found six ceramic groups associated with three chronological phases. Phase I (500 - 200 B.C.) contains four ceramic groups, including Burnished Earthenware, Grayware, Slipped Ware, and Cord-marked Earthenware. Some vessel forms (i.e., pedestal bowl, short and tall flare rimmed jar, and carinated bowls) can also be attributed to Phase I. Fine Orangeware is the diagnostic ceramic of Phase II which dates from between 200 B.C. - A.D. 300/200. Cylindrical shaped vessel is the unique form of ceramic in the Fine Orangeware group. Phase III (A.D. 300/200 - 600) contains one ceramic group, Fine Buffware. This Fine Buffware can be found in two distinctive forms: Kendi and pedestalled vase. The results of this typological and chronological research have the potential of providing information on gross patterns of local production and manufacturing traditions through time at Angkor Borei. It will allow the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of Cambodia and other researchers who are interested in the area and the general time frame (400 B.C - A.D. 500) to develop a more precise regional chronology of the Lower Mekong region of Cambodia.
Archaeology, Angkor Borei, Ceramic chronology, Takeo province, Cambodia
Bong, Sovath (2003) The ceramic chronology of Angkor Borei, Takeo province, southern Cambodia. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Hawai'i, United States -- Hawaii.
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Anthropology; no. 4378
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