Andreas Reinecke • Vin Laychour • Seng Sonetra

The First Golden Age of Cambodia: Excavation at Prohear

The First Golden Age of Cambodia: Excavation at Prohear
Andreas Reinecke • Vin Laychour • Seng Sonetra

Printed with funding provided by the German Foreign Office

Bonn 2009

In co-operation between:

Bibliografische Information der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek verzeichnet diese Publikation in der Deutschen Nationalbibliografie; detaillierte bibliografische Daten sind im Internet über abrufbar.

Printed and bound in Germany by printing company “THOMAS MÜNTZER” GmbH Postfach 1151, 99941 Bad Langensalza, Germany Copyright © Andreas Reinecke ISBN 978-3-00-029467-9 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior permission in writing from the authors E-mail: Designed and typeset by Müller-Scheeßel, Frankfurt a. M.

On the front cover: Collection of gold and silver ornaments from different burials atProhear dating about 100 BC to AD 100 (Photo: A. Reinecke)

When mentioning Cambodia, people immediately start to talk about the marvels of Angkor Wat and the hundreds of temples and structures that are to be found in its vicinity. Since July 2008, the country has a new attraction, for the World Heritage Committee recognized the archaeological site of Preah Vihear as the second World Heritage Site in Cambodia. The attention to these monuments is justified as there are only a few archaeological sites worldwide that can stand a comparison. That our attention has been directed to Preah Vihear we owe to the rescue excavations – composed of a German-Cambodian team of archaeologists inspired by Dr. Andreas Reinecke from the German Archaeological Institute – and to their findings at Prohear that indicate already 2000 years ago there was a highly developed culture in what is known to us today as Cambodia. Unfortunately, the looters of burial sites are in general faster than the archaeologists who try to preserve the cultural heritage for mankind. Thus, it is a pure coincidence that when the German-Cambodian team arrived on the scene there could still be anything expected from the excavations. The mere fact that some parts a burial site happened to be protected under part of the village road was most fortunate for our knowledge of this highly developed culture. That these limited parts of the cemetery would provide such a wealth of artifacts came as a surprise to everyone. As I understand, the value of these findings has yet to be established by archaeologists in the years to come. This publication is an important contribution for the understanding of the highly developed culture of Prohear and its interactions with neighboring cultures. I am very happy that a German archaeologist could contribute to the improvement of our knowledge on Prohear and the people who lived there 2000 years ago and I thank the German-Cambodian team for all their efforts and the German Archaeological Institute for its support. Just as Angkor Wat represents the Khmer culture above ground, so will the burials and their offerings from Prohear prove to be similarly significant for this long forgotten culture. Phnom Penh October 26th, 2009

Frank M. Mann Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Since 1996, the Faculty of Archaeology at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh has had an exchange program with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with the purpose of providing lecturers from Germany to train undergraduate students in archaeological fieldwork. Following this, in 2000, the Memot Centre for Archaeology was established, and has since been playing an important role in the field of Cambodian archaeology. On behalf of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, I would like to express my appreciation and admiration for the German Archaeological Institute for its initiative to assist in research, preservation, and public outreach with the publication of this book on the results and analyses of the findings from Prohear. This research has been brought to light by Dr. Andreas Reinecke from the German Archaeological Institute. I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to the German Embassy in Phnom Penh for its help. It is a huge effort for the German Archaeological Institute to rescue the 2000-year-old cemetery in Prohear and to preserve our heritage. The exhilarating finds at the site, such as a bronze drum and gold and silver objects, help us to better understand this rich culture in Southeast Asia, and especially the culture of Cambodia. I hope that this book, entitled “The First Golden Age of Cambodia”, will spread the knowledge of this culture to both people in Southeast Asia, and the people of the world as a whole. Phnom Penh October 26th, 2009

Chuch Phoeurn Secretary of State Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts


Table of contents
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Chapter 1: A thrilling prelude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 The story of Kong Sung . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Chapter 3: Trying to puzzle out the secrets of the burial site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cemetery and settlement in a closed neighborhood? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Spinning and weaving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Blacksmith in every village . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Iron ingots from the north? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pottery production . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bronze casting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 What ‘rich’ means . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Bronze drums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 “Ordinary women … wear gold bracelets” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Water buffalo bracelet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 The face under the bronze bowl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 The boy with a bell between his thighs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Dating of the burials and finds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 The secrets of the human bones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Speaking dead – what skeletons tell us about people’s lives (S. Krais) . . . . . . . . . 3 Human teeth as passport . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Nothing but gold and silver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . It depends on the right mixture (S. Schlosser) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Small beads – big information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How common were glass ornaments? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bead variants in Prohear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beads are excellent objects for studying ancient trade (A.K. Carter) . . . . . . . . . . Several types of potash glass of the last few centuries BC (J.W. Lankton) . . . . . . 61 61 62 63 65 66 67 77 77 79 84 89 92 95 99 99 102 104 107 109 110 116 117 118 120 122

Chapter 6: What the burial offerings tell us . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

Glass as an ideal substitute to imitate stone ornaments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 Glass making – a local handicraft? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 6 Animal bones – remains of the last meal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Chapter 9: Have a look under a coating of rust – wonderful restored objects . . . . . . . . 127 Metal Restoration Laboratory in the Memot Centre for Archaeology . . . . . . . . . 129 Chapter 10: Strangers in Prohear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133 Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Recently discovered neighbors and their burial customs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Relationships reflected in the bronze offerings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Disc, bowls, and bracelets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The bronze drum network . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Prohear’s competition: the gold treasures from the Transbassac region . . . . . . . . 4 Gold and silver before Oc Eo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gold masks and other items from Giong Lon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The ribbed gold earrings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 “They hold Chinese gold and silver in the highest regard” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chinese gold and silver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Historical records about gold and silver in Cambodia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The early ‘golden network’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Where did the precious stone beads come from? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Some arguments for local precious stone bead-making . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hard-stone beads – individual and regional distinctions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . From nephrite to garnet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Carnelian and agate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 12: Prohear’s historical background – the comeback of a discarded idea? . . . Prohear and the waves of change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Prohear-Kele connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Collaborate, die, or flee! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Who lived and died in Prohear? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Where was the capital and ‘main port’ of Funan? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . In conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139 139 147 148 149 150 152 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 161 162 162 165 165 166 167 168 170 171

References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189 Summary in Khmer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197 Captions in Khmer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212




You have in your hands the history of a 2000-year-old population in southeastern Cambodia with a surprisingly rich and mysterious culture. They lived in Prohear, in the present day Prey Veng province, which means ‘long forest’ in the Khmer language. Currently the forest is scarce and there is even an absence of water for irrigation during the dry season. Prey Veng is one of the poorest regions of Cambodia. The basis of this story comes from 500 artifacts from 52 burials (excluding 2700 beads and many thousands of potsherds) that were discovered during the rescue excavations by a Cambodian-German archaeological team in 2008 and 2009. If we wanted to present only the archaeological objects, a catalogue would be enough. Instead, we want to present and interpret the artifacts from the burials in such a way that the reader will get an impression of the lives of the residents of Prohear 2000 years ago. Scientific analysis of the ancient remains can assist us in understanding the historical background of the site. However, because the last excavation campaign was only finished in March 2009, just a fraction of all proposed analyses in progress is available. Nevertheless, we take the risk of producing a preliminary report because there is immense interest in the rare objects discovered at Prohear. In doing so, it cannot be avoided that after completion of all analyses we will have to modify our interpretations in some regard for the final scientific publication. That is archaeology: new finds and perfected analyses lead incrementally to a constantly improving perspective that brings us closer to the historical truth. We stand not at the end of our knowledge, but rather at the beginning. What is already sure is that the sensational discoveries of the last few years in Cambodia and southern Vietnam will lead to a completely changed view of prehistory; not only in Cambodia but in the whole of mainland Southeast Asia as well. Cambodia’s prehistory will be much better understood than in the past, when we looked for the roots of Angkor more outside than inside the present borders of the country.



1 Angkor Wat, a high point of more than 1000 years of cultural achievement (Photo: A. Reinecke, March 2007)

Archaeology in Cambodia is for the most part still associated with Angkor and its epoch, which was seemingly created by gods and built by giants. Time before Angkor is like a deep, black hole with an almost unknown prehistory. The roots of the amazing Khmer era still lie in the wide shadows of the temples (ill. 1). Nevertheless archaeology in this country is on a rapid upward trend resulting in the unearthing of astonishing artifacts from the darkness. The formerly blank spots on the archaeological map between Thailand and Vietnam are starting to fill quickly. Year after year, unexpected discoveries from the previously unknown Bronze Age and Iron Age of 1000 BC till 500 AD are brought to light. It began in 1999 with excavations by a Cambodian-American team at Angkor Borei in Takeo province, where unknown redorange-colored fine earthenware ceramics from 2000-year-old layers excited the public’s curiosity. A short time later, additional news

was presented that provided a better understanding of the ancient canal system between Angkor Borei and the commercial center Oc Eo during the Funan period (2nd-7th century AD)1. These results have strengthened Angkor Borei’s position as the long sought after first capital of Funan, the legendary ‘Temu’ of ancient Chinese records. We will come back to this issue in chapter 12 at the end of this book. In 2007, unbelievable news spread through the world press: in Phum Snay, Banteay Meanchey province in northwestern Cambodia, a Japanese-Cambodian team had discovered in the midst of about 50 excavated burials, the inhumations of a group of helmet-protected ‘amazons’ or female soldiers, armed with the swords of a ‘Funan army’. Even if these are overstatements of the press2, earlier excavations at Phum Snay since 2001 have unveiled similar unusual finds, including ‘epaulettes’ made from ceramics affixed with iron buffalo horns (see Chapter 7.4). Some new discoveries beyond the southern Cambodian border, in the territory of southern Vietnam, belong in the same cultural context. Between 2004 and 2006 a German-Vietnamese team excavated a large 3000-2500-year-old salt boiling center at Go O Chua in Long An province, about 10 km southwest from Svay Rieng town in Cambodia3. At Giong Lon near Vung Tau city Vietnamese archaeologists found the first three prehistoric gold masks in mainland Southeast Asia with clear provenance and dates (see Chapter 11.4)4. And lastly, gold and silver jewelry, bronze drums, and other unique bronze objects more than 2000 years old have been found in the burials of Prohear (ill. 2). This ancient Cambodian culture, long hidden, has finally been unveiled from the dust of millennia and risen like a phoenix from the ashes. We can prepare for more surprises in the coming years. In the wide unknown space between the famous archaeological cultures from Dong Son, Sa Huynh, Ban Don Ta Phet, Ban Chiang and Dian, the picture of a forgotten indigenous civilization starts to emerge. Most of all these discoveries are even more astonishing because they come from cemeteries where looters had already plundered countless burials and sold the archaeological objects. There are many such losses in Cambodian heritage and elsewhere in Southeast Asia every year; their stories could fill another book like this5.


1 M.T. Stark 2001; P. Bishop / D.C.W. Sanderson / M.T. Stark 2004. 2 See critical comment of S.V. Lapteff 2009, 17. 3 A. Reinecke 2009b. 4 A. Reinecke / Nguyen Thi Thanh Luyen 2009. 5 For another impressive example of how difficult it is to stop the looting activities on archaeological sites in this region see S.V. Lapteff for Phum Snay (2009, 9-10).



2 Gold and silver jewelry from Prohear: Objects discovered in different burials (Photo: A. Reinecke)

Cambodia, like the whole of Southeast Asia, is in the middle of an economic boom. In one or two generations almost everything will change in this country. A rapid socio-economic development of the region is long awaited and gives all people hope for a better future. In breathtaking speed road networks and electrical grids will replace the millennia old traditions of village-based ethnic minorities. Archaeological sites or artifacts will be dismissed as prehistoric rubbish, while others will be purchased illegally as unwanted art objects best sold into collections abroad. Without any support, local researchers have only a whiff of a chance against this turn of events. To be able to oppose the bands of detractors, looters, middlemen and well-heeled private collectors that outnumber them at home and abroad, one must form an alliance. Thus, all successful excavations of the last ten



3 View of the Royal Palace area in Phnom Penh from the Tonle Sap River (Photo: A. Reinecke, April 2009)

4 His Excellency Chuch Phoeurn, State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, visiting the Memot Centre where the artifacts from Prohear are restored (Photo: Song Sonetra)

5 Cambodian-German delegation visiting the Memot Centre (from left to right): Mr. Ham Kimson, Director of the Department of Archaeology and Prehistory, His Excellency Ouk Socheat, State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Aditya Eggert (University of Göttingen/ Germany), His Excellency German Ambassador Markus F. Mann and Seng Sonetra (Photo: Moul Komnet, 21st of August 2009)



6 Khmer New Year celebration at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in April 2009. Present at the ceremony was the Minister of Culture and Fine Arts of Cambodia, His Excellency Him Chhem (Photo: A. Reinecke)

6 See W.A. Southworth 2000, and A. Carter 2009 for a view on the status quo and on international collaborative efforts in Cambodia.

years have been partnerships between Cambodian archaeologists with those from France, the USA, Germany, Japan, and other countries. Continued cooperation in archaeological investigation of this culturally and historically fascinating region is urgently necessary6. Prohear is only one of many recently discovered and looted cemeteries in Southeast Asia. However, while countless other burial sites have been looted completely, a small portion of the precious objects at Prohear were saved. Despite advanced looting activities and the small area of the rescue excavation many unique artifacts and meaningful features came to light. As such, the burial site of Prohear will soon be noted on every archaeological map between South Asia and the Red River Delta. Prohear brings forth a new view of long distance interaction in Southeast Asia during the last centuries BC; no other pre-Christian site in mainland Southeast Asia has yielded so many gold and silver objects. Even though Prohear is located inland, far away from the seashore and some distance from the Mekong River, Prohear’s people were much richer than most trade port sites beside the silk sea route. In fact, from all the archaeological sites that have been discovered along the Vietnamese coast, only Oc Eo is ‘richer’ than Prohear. We

have been asked over and over again: “Why is Prohear so rich?” It is a cemetery seemingly not only far from trade, but also from main interaction routes somewhere in the interior of present-day Cambodia. We will try to give an amazing answer to this question at the end of this book! * Our work in the last two years was made possible by manifold supporters. Our thanks go to the German Embassy in Phnom Penh and the German Foreign Office’s “Cultural Preservation Programme”, for support of the restoration of the valuable finds from Prohear in progress and enabling the printing of this book. We also wish to thank all supporters of this German-Cambodian project who have allowed or assisted in the cooperation between the Memot Centre and the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), especially Secretary of State H.E. Chuch Phoeurn as representative of the Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Cambodia and all other excellencies of this ministry. We are also grateful to Gerd and Bärbel Albrecht (Badenweiler/Germany), Sok Puthivuth (Phnom Penh), Pheng Sytha (Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology), Ham Kimson (Director of the Department of Archaeology), Heng Sophady (Director of the Memot Centre), and all colleagues of the Cultural office in Prey Veng province and Chea Ry, the Mayor of Prohear village. For helpful ideas, comments and information we wish to express our gratitude to our colleagues Norbert Benecke (Berlin), Bùi Phát Diệm (Tân An/Vietnam), Emma C. Bunker (Denver), TzeHuey Chiou-Peng (Illinois), Magdalene von Dewall (Neckargemünd/Germany), Shawn Szejda Fehrenbach (Hawai-Mānoa), Ian Glover (London), Karl-Heinz Golzio (Bonn), Wolfgang Hofmeister (Mainz), Simone Krais (Freiburg/Germany), Bernd Kromer (Heidelberg/Germany), James W. Lankton (London), Sergey V. Lapteff (Shigaraki/ Japan), Lê Thị Hương (Hanoi), Lê Thị Liên (Hanoi), Phon Kaseka (Phnom Penh), Nguyễn Văn Việt (Hanoi), Astrid Pasch (Weimar/ Germany), Christophe Pottier (Siem Reap), Dougald J.W. O’Reilly (Sydney), Thilo Rehren (London), Sandra Schlosser (Mannheim/ Germany), M. Mike Schweissing (München), William A. Southworth (Bonn), Miriam T. Stark (Hawaii-Mānoa), Nancy Tingley (Woodacre/United States), and Sabine Werner (Bonn). A special thanks to



Alison Kyra Carter (Madison) for her input on the beads chapter and reviewing the English version of this book. We also wish to acknowledge the “Deutsche Welle”-Television and especially Jörg Seibold for the enrichment of our fieldwork documentation by the film report “Gold Diggers and Temple Rescuers – A Cambodian Expedition” that can be downloaded on the internet7. This film gives insights into two current German-Cambodian projects: the excavation at Prohear and the restoration work of “German Apsara Conservation Projects (GACP)” under direction of Hans Leisen from the Institute of Conservation Sciences of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences. The Commission for Archaeology of Non-European Cultures of the German Archaeological Institute provided generous funding for our excavation. Its assistance in promoting this and similar projects has made the timely publication of the rich findings of Prohear possible.

7 The English version can be downloaded from the Deutsche Welle website: http:// article/0,,4644527,00. html or from the website of the German Archaeological Institute: http://www. en/20090917_dw_prohear_en.mp4 for the German version use:,,4619521,00. html or http://www. de/20090917_dw_prohear_de.mp4


Chapter 1: A thrilling prelude
It all began with Bit Meas, a village only eight kilometers southwest from Prohear. In the fields near the village a 2000-year-old cemetery was completely looted in the beginning of 2006 (ill. 7-8). The villagers told us that many gold objects had been found among the burial offerings. Now we wonder whether the Khmer name of the village, ‘Bit’ (stick on) and ‘Meas’ (gold), is pure chance. In May 2006, some staff members from the Faculty of Archaeology of the Royal University of Fine Arts and the Memot Centre in Phnom Penh visited the site and saved some of the valuable artifacts. At four different places near the edge of the cemetery that was littered with looting holes, there was a test excavation covering a total of 28 square meters. Mr. Sok Puthivuth from Phnom Penh financed this rescue campaign, and thanks to his support the Cambodian archaeologists were able

7 Location of Bit Meas and Prohear sites in Prey Veng province (Map: A. Reinecke)


Chapter 1: A thrilling prelude

8 The Iron Age burial site of Bit Meas (about 150 BC-AD 100): Looters in action, May 2006. The whole area is flecked with sinkholes like a lunar landscape (Photo: Vin Laychour)

to get various objects from the villagers and to take photos of some items including earrings and a gold finger ring, as well as beads from agate, carnelian and garnet. Unfortunately no more graves came to

9 Rescue excavations on the looted burial site of Bit Meas, May 2006. Vin Laychour, Seng Sonetra and archaeological students from the Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, saved the last evidence of one of the richest Iron Age cemeteries in Cambodia (Photo: Vin Laychour)

Chapter 1: A thrilling prelude


10/11 Objects saved by recovering them from the looters in Bit Meas: 10 Gold finger ring with a star-like decoration, diam. 2.15 cm (Photo: A. Reinecke) 11 A couple of gold earrings, diam. 1.7 cm (Photo: A. Reinecke)

12 Beads of different shapes and hardstones (length 0.9-1.9 cm) from looted burials in Bit Meas (all sold by villagers): agate (from left 1-3), carnelian (4-6), and garnet (7-8) (Photo: Song Sonetra)

light during the excavation, only some scattered ceramic vessels that were left in the ground by looters (ill. 9-12)8. The looting activities at Bit Meas left a bizarre moon-like scene. But there was still another problem: it was clear to the farmers in the surrounding areas that with prehistoric ‘rubbish’ in their fields they could generate a higher profit than only the kilo price for regular iron or bronze scrap. During many months of industrious looting, a network of middlemen organized the procurement of the archaeological objects for the illegal and lucrative antique market. However, the disaster of Bit Meas also grabbed the attention of the Cambodian archaeologists in Phnom Penh. Should such looting occur again at another place, they wanted to intervene before it would be too late. One year later in April 2007, archaeologists from the Memot Centre and from the Commission for Archaeology of Non-European Cultures of the German Archaeological Institute began their first joint fieldwork in Svay Rieng province (ill. 13-15). Although the

8 John Vink, a photojournalist who visited Bit Meas in April 2006, reports about the looting activities at this site: “Having found some antique artefacts in his ricefield, its owner sold the right to dig to neighbours for 2.50 $ per two square meter. Soon, for over a week, nearly 3000 people were uprooting the area, some of them having found gold, others beads (worth between 0.25 and 1.25 $), pottery and teeth … but most of them having destroyed…” (http:// php?title=Cambodia_ Tomb_Raiders).


Chapter 1: A thrilling prelude

13 Survey in Svey Rieng province, April 2007: With a hoe and a metal detector salvagers make their way through Svay Rieng province. Sometimes scrap turns out to be prehistoric treasures (Photo: L. Reinecke)

14 Survey in Svey Rieng province, April 2007: Stone tools from Toul Prasat Kro Houm stored in the museum, including a single shouldered adze (length 9.5 cm), the first found in this province (Photos: A. Reinecke)

15 Survey in Svey Rieng province, April 2007: Sugar boiling kilns built from clay, bamboo and rice chaff are an important part of a traditional Khmer occupation for hundreds of years. They give an impression of similar simple constructions of salt boiling kilns 3000 years ago at Go O Chua (Photos: A. Reinecke)

Chapter 1: A thrilling prelude
survey area lies only 60 km south of Prohear, we did not hear news of the looting in Prey Veng province. A few weeks later, the most thrilling story that we have experienced in our archaeological fieldwork in Southeast Asia in the last fifteen years began. On the 20th of May 2007, archaeology students from Phnom Penh, Hong Ranet, Ngoy Sona and Huot Nora, observed the looters in Prohear and announced this to their colleagues at the Memot Centre. On the 23rd of May, the archaeologists Vin Laychour and Seng Sonetra traveled the long 150 km journey to Prohear and made a failed effort to stop the illegal digging. What they saw set off all alarm bells. Shortly after her return, Seng Sonetra sent a short emotional e-mail describing the situation they encountered: “Dear all, the looting area is in Prohear village, Chrey commune, Prey Veng district, Prey Veng province. Attached are some photos of objects found at that site. The looting is still going on. Until now, nearly twenty bronze drums were found and sold immediately. We had no chance to see any drums before the dealer transported them out quickly from the site …”. The attached photos showed items of gold, precious stones, and bronze, like we had never seen before in Cambodia or in the neighboring countries of Southeast Asia. They also showed busily digging farmers, inhabitants of Prohear and nearby ‘specialists’, in the midst of a crater-filled landscape, very similar to Bit Meas. There were pits strung together hole by hole over an area as large as a soccer field. The holes were the last evidence of looted burials and the prehistory of Cambodia! They were full of water, because the rainy season had started and put an end to the treasure hunting. However, these first photos made clear to every viewer: during the months since the beginning of 2007, hundreds of burials had been completely destroyed in search of rich burial offerings (ill. 16-23). At first, Seng Sonetra’s appeal for help reached Gerd Albrecht in Badenweiler, Germany. Since 1996, Gerd Albrecht together with his wife Barbara and other colleagues had trained archaeologists-to-


16 Prohear in the middle of May 2007: Villagers are digging up every available square meter (Photo: Hong Ranet)


Chapter 1: A thrilling prelude

17 and 18 Villagers discover one of dozens of bronze drums in the middle of May 2007 (Photos: Hong Ranet)

be and had equipped the Memot Centre in Phnom Penh and the Memot Museum in Memot through the help of German funds and donors. Seng Sonetra and Vin Laychour were their students. On the same day, Gerd Albrecht conveyed the bad news about the extensive looting of the remarkably rich burials with countless gold objects and dozens of bronze drums, to Andreas Reinecke from the German Archaeological Institute, who just some days before had returned from his fieldwork in Southeast Asia to Germany. Nevertheless, it was clear to all of us that we had to act very quickly. Gerd Albrecht offered financial support for a rescue excavation, the DAI offered immediate assistance as well, and Andreas Reinecke was ready to return to Cambodia straight away. However, only at the end of 2007 was the green light given for an excavation at Prohear. From March 2007 until February 2008, villagers from Prohear hoed out their prehistory from the soil with the guidance of some experienced ‘specialists’ from Bit Meas. All valuable items were sold to middlemen who arranged for the objects to make their way to the antique markets in Southeast Asia. There they will appear, like so many other antiques from Cambodia. Quickly, the cemetery in the center of Prohear, once the size of two soccer fields, was reduced to the crater-like landscape of Bit Meas. However, there was a bless-

Chapter 1: A thrilling prelude


19 The looted burial site in Prohear at the end of May 2007. The rainy season had started and the holes are full of rain water (Photo: Seng Sonetra)

20 The villagers of Prohear sold the iron offerings they found in the burials for 900 Riels (0.2 US$) per kilo to the scrap yard (Photo: Seng Sonetra) 21 Archaeologists from Phnom Penh recovered a range of iron tools and bracelets (Photo: A. Reinecke)


Chapter 1: A thrilling prelude

22 A rich harvest but difficult to sell: This part of the Cambodian heritage from Prohear was not good enough for the dealers and was left in the houses of the villagers in May 2007. Left: a long part of a socketed bronze lance head (length still 36.5 cm), lying underneath is a bronze bowl with an omphalos bottom and a ribbed surface (mouth diam. 15.6 cm); right: the foot of a high pedestalled ceramic bowl and a pot (Photo: Seng Sonetra)

ing in disguise: unlike at Bit Meas the archaeological site in Prohear was not situated on open fields, but in the midst of the village with a heavily used municipally owned road of a width of 4 meters. This road was the focus of the archaeological excavations from February to May 2008 and February/March 2009, about which we will report in the following chapters.

23 Bead offerings from looted burials in Prohear: glass beads (blue), carnelian (redbrown), and agate (brown) (Photo: Hong Ranet)


Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear
Prohear, home of some hundred families, cannot be found on tourist maps. The starting point for the route to this unknown village is the provincial town of Prey Veng. With a few small hotels and some bamboo ‘open-air’ saloons it radiates the charm of a small town during the pioneering days of the Wild West. Motorbikes are the most practical means of travel to Prohear. The first 20 km are on the well maintained National Route 11 to the small town of Svay Antor. Then the second half of the way was an ever-changing dirt road on which one had to avoid clouds of dust or deep puddles. In the second year of the excavation, we observed the construction of a new concrete road from Svay Antor heading east, which by now will have reached the small field road that runs 2 km to Prohear (ill. 7, 24-26). One can see from Henri Mouhot’s travelogue how much this presently deforested landscape has changed during the last 150 years. The French explorer, who announced the ruins of Angkor to Europe in the 1860s, visited the thick, game-rich forest to the north of Prey Veng to Tay Ninh and Binh Phuoc in present-day Vietnam in August 1859. For nearly three months he resided among the Stieng (Stiên), an ethnic minority who survived there until modern times. He drew a detailed picture of the ancient scenery of this region before

24 Location of the Iron Age cemetery in the center of Prohear village from a height of 1.32 km (Google Earth 2008)


Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear

25 The way to Prohear in 2008 (left): for cars with daily ‘Dubious Deeds’, it is sometimes too dusty, sometimes too slippery (Photo: L. Reinecke); 2009 (right): in preparation for road-construction (Photo: J. Seibold) 26 Prohear village from the north. The Iron Age cemetery is situated in the village center on the right side of the road (Photo: Seng Sonetra)

he travelled on to Angkor. Mouhot was surrounded by forests that were teeming with elephants, buffaloes, rhinoceros, tigers, and wild boar. He most dreaded scorpions, centipedes, and serpents and was plagued by mosquitoes and leeches9. In the future, pollen analyses will give us a more concrete picture about the ancient surroundings of Prohear or Bit Meas. This analysis may confirm our assumption that the landscape was made up of ‘settlement islands’, which 2000 years before had emerged from the jungle. Looking more broadly, the jungle must have also influenced the life of the people at Prohear during the early Iron Age.

9 H. Mouhot 1864/1992, vol. I, 240255.

Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear


27 Excavation on the main road through Prohear in April 2008: In the foreground are the holes of the looted burials. In the background on the left is one of the recently built houses fully funded by the selling of archaeological artifacts (Photo: A. Reinecke)

Upon our arrival in Prohear in February 2008 the mood of the villagers was tense. Behind groups of farmers heatedly discussing our arrival were two newly built houses. They were a testament to

28 Meeting in Prohear before the beginning of the excavation in February 2008: Cambodian archaeologists tell the villagers about the importance of the burial site and the needs of an archaeological excavation (Photo: Vin Laychour)


Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear

29 The excavation team is preparing to sleep directly in the excavation unit (Photo: Seng Sonetra)

30 The pagoda ‘Preah Vihear’ in the center of the village gave rise to the name ‘Prohear’ (Photo: Moul Kumnet)

10 The “Law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage” of Cambodia, enacted in 1996 by Norodom Sihanouk, contains all regulations to protect archaeological objects no matter whether they are found on public or privately owned land.

the newfound prosperity of the families that had success looting. The gossip factory was working overtime: “Foreigners want to dig out our treasures”, was one of the more diplomatic versions of the accusations against us. “Stop the thieves”, cried the looters, who were certainly not aware of their own guilt! “All treasures in the ground of our private land are our property”, – such was the conventional wisdom despite all state regulations (ill. 27)10. The Cambodian archaeologists were busy for several days providing a clearer understanding of our archaeological activities and to change the atmosphere of resentment amongst the upset villagers (ill. 28). Nevertheless, within eyeshot of the archaeological excavation, the last remaining undisturbed private land was burrowed through. For the first few nights it seemed advisable for our archaeologists to sleep in the middle of the main road through the village, directly in excavation Unit A on the newly discovered burials (ill. 29). * The oral history of Prohear goes back to the 19th century. The name ‘Prohear’ refers to the original name ‘Preah Vihear’, the name of the central building in the village pagoda, which houses the Buddha (ill. 30). During a lunch break we talked with Kong Chuong, one of the oldest inhabitants of the village who was born in 1919. The alert man

Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear


31 They keep in their memory the last 60 years of Prohear: Kong Chuong and his wife (left), and the 65-year-old musician of Prohear village, Kong Quern (right). When he is playing his two-string-fiddle all around him are settled in harmony and peace (Photos: L. Reinecke)

32 Excavation Unit A on the main road through the village is in close contact with the daily traffic (Photo: Seng Sonetra)


Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear

33 Prohear: Overview of the excavation Units A-D – red: partly destroyed burials, red/yellow: partly destroyed with gold/silver; yellow: preserved burials with gold/silver, black: without gold/silver; green: imported bronze object (without bracelets), blue: garnet; T: drum or fragments of a drum; S: sword (Drawing: A. Reinecke)

Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear


34 Directly below the upper layer of some burials lie horizontal looting holes that partly cross the main road at a depth of 0.51.0 meter (Photo: A. Reinecke)

puffed on his hand-rolled cheroot cigar with relish, and reported that in the 1980’s strange objects had already been spotted in the ground (ill. 31). However, at that time all these strange artifacts were considered to be worthless garbage. We can estimate the dimensions of the ancient cemetery by the distribution of the looters’ pits that cover an area of about 125 × 150 meters, or almost 20,000 square meters. Our excavation area on the village road cuts through the center of the cemetery. Before the beginning of the excavations, the traffic through the village had to be diverted through adjoining front yards and gardens. This required tough negotiations with the owners (ill. 32). During the excavation campaigns in spring 2008 and 2009 we set out four units (A-D) on the road covering 45 meters in length and 2-3 meters in width (ill. 33). The whole excavated area is 116.4 square meters, with 52 burials detected, many of which are only partly preserved or destroyed by digging in the past and present11. An average of one grave was found for every 2 to 3 square meters, however they were more densely packed in Units A and D than in Units B and C. This trend of declining grave density continues as one moves away from the center of the cemetery. We can imagine that during the

11 Peculiar burials 1, 6, 17, 37, 52.


Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear

35/36 The rainy season is starting in May so there is no way to continue the excavation. A tropical downpours transformed the unit into a small pool in only a few minutes (Photo: A. Reinecke)

Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear
looting of the entire 20,000 square meters area at least 1000 burials were destroyed. The upper burial layers were found at approximately 0.60 meters under the road’s surface. With ceramic vessels, rows of pots, or a scattering of sherds the excavation area appeared like an oasis amidst the looter’s pits. However, this first impression was an illusion. While scraping and cleaning the burials, sometimes our excavators suddenly broke through the ground. Long tunnel-like holes, up to 2.5 meters in length, had been driven in from both sides of the municipal road to a depth of 0.7-1.2 meters. Almost half of all the graves were partly destroyed by these horizontal ‘tunnels’ (ill. 34 and 38). In some places the ground was so extremely hard that the ceramics had to be uncovered with a hammer and fine chisel-like tools. All objects, except ceramic sherds, received their own inventory number. Ceramics were recorded in find lists of square meters and then classified by burial numbers. Burials were often placed so close together that adjacent grave pits frequently touched each other. Thus, during the excavation it was not always possible to recognize a clear separation between all the burials and their associated offerings. Only after the completion of drawings and documentation were the graves, numbering 1 through 52, and their offerings recognizable. The ceramics were cleaned at the site. Portions of burials, especially those that were rich in offerings, were lifted as blocks to be investigated in the restoration lab in Phnom Penh. At present, this time-consuming work is not finished yet and continues with the restoration of the bronze and iron objects. The excavation campaigns were limited by the beginning of the rainy season in May. Some early tropical downpours, most notably during the last days of the excavation in 2008, transformed the units into small pools in only a few minutes. The rain destroyed profiles and endangered uncovered graves. It is a credit to the ingenuity of all staff members of the excavation team that all the graves were documented and rescued (ill. 35 and 36). After many months of looting, our excavation assistants from the village had excellent experience in digging burials, as well as in recognizing different burials types and the arrangement of offerings. Even on the first excavation day, they could predict the appearance



Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear

37 The 2008 excavation team (Photo: Memot Centre)

of special items before we could see anything. As the excavation continued, they developed a good feel for the process of an archaeological excavation. With so many burial offerings discovered, they could tell us if a special item had never before been discovered in Prohear or how often and where these gold, silver, bronze objects or special ceramic types had already appeared. During the excavation in February and April/May 2008, the following archaeology students from the Royal University of Fine Arts Phnom Penh belonged to our staff: Hang Nisay, Leng Vitou, Kim Virum, Ty Chanpheany, Nep Chanlaksmy, Chea Narin, Moul Konmnet, Chhun Sambor, Sakhoeurn Sakada, Em Kim Sreang and Chhim Sotha. Additionally, Gerd and Barbara Albrecht and Matth-

Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear
ias Heinzel from Germany took part during the first campaign. They all were supported by the ‘special team of experienced excavators’ from the village: Kong Sung, Rith, Sam-on, Wat, Pheak, Kosal, Yieng, Yong, Leang, Vath, La, Yith and Nhep (ill. 37). In February/March 2009, our team included the archaeology students: Moul Komnet, Em Kimsreang, Leng Vitou, Kim Phirum, Chea Narin, Ouk Neng, Kath Srim, Tol Marady, Khom Poline, Huon Savong, Pho Mala, Ou Kong Kea. The villagers Yong, Kong Sung, Leang, Kork, Phoan, Pheak, Hour, Say, Soeurn, Meuy, Pheak, Ranh, Nhep and Nhen strengthened our team (ill. 113, Chapter 10). The excavation team was hosted in both years by Ms. Nuon, Ms. Sokleang, Mr. Vanndy and Mr. Mi. We are grateful to all of them for their help and to the villagers for their hospitality.



Chapter 2: Last chance for Prohear

38 Villager Kong Sung found 7 bronze drums while looting in Prohear. Then he was an assistant for the excavation team. In the background is a horizontal looting hole that he and other villagers dug from the side, below the road (Photo: A. Reinecke) 39 This stubborn water buffalo cow costs the equivalent of 6 bronze drums. In the background Kong Sung, the owner of the ‘bronze drum buffalo’, is at a safe distance from his new willfull property (Photo: A. Reinecke)

The story of Kong Sung At this point we want to tell you the story of Kong Sung, one of our assistants who has taken part in all excavations. The 35-year-old Sung holds one of the saddest records from the drama in Prohear. He has dug out a total of 7 bronze drums – an entry fit for the ‘Guinness Book of Records’. Like many other farmers he was only able to sell the first drum for the scrap metal price of 7000 Riel (just fewer than 2 US dollars) per kilo of bronze. A short time later, the profit rose to 50 US dollars for a drum due to a payment from a middleman from an antique market. By selling 6 drums he could save 300 US dollars, enough to buy the first water buffalo of his life. By owning a water buffalo, he no longer needed to rent a buffalo to do his fieldwork. As an assistant during our archaeological excavation, Sung saw the damage caused by his deep looting pits, which destroyed so many burials (ill. 38). Countless bronze drums appeared during these looting activities – more than had been seen before at any other site in Southeast Asia. The farmers reported that the drums had a diameter of 35-60 cm and contained a lot of jewelry, including gold objects. Sung’s water buffalo is an unconventional two-year-old female who wants to graze all day and does not like to be bothered by her owner Sung until it is time to return home late in the evening. If Sung comes to her during the day, she senses there will be trouble and that Sung is up to no good, so she takes to her heels. To take a photo of this stubborn water buffalo, equivalent in price to 6 bronze drums, we had to chase her for 2 km, and then encircle her to keep her in place (ill. 39).


Chapter 3: Trying to puzzle out the secrets of the burial site
In the excavations thus far, 52 graves have been uncovered, including 47 inhumations and 5 jar burials of children in large vessels of about 50 cm in diameter (ill. 44 and 60, right). By looking at the funeral rites, head orientation, burial offerings, and depth we can separate the graves into two main mortuary periods (I and II). Currently, we are at the beginning of our analyses and their interpretation, and the radiocarbon dates will be completed during the next months (Chapter 8.1). Only then will it be possible to determine a well-founded absolute time span of the successive mortuary periods. However, we have gathered the following criteria to distinguish ‘early = I’ and ‘later = II’ mortuary periods and their dating (ill. 40-43). I. The period I burials fall between 500-150/100 BC. This period is comprised of four inhumations with the heads orientated east (No. 19, 51) or west (No. 21, 49; ill. 43). Additionally, all four graves are unified by their great depth (0.90-1.45 meters). None of these contain gold objects. It is also noteworthy that two of the burials included garnet beads (21, 49). There are more interesting clues to the dating of the ceramics. Two of the graves (19, 49) are equipped with pottery vessels typical of burials at Go O Chua, in Long An province in southern Vietnam (high pedestalled bowls, high pots with funnel-shaped rim; ill. 45:1, 3 and 6, 8). The inhumations at Go O Chua primarily belong to the 4th-2nd century BC. Which other burials may also belong to mortuary phase I? This includes grave 5, a jar burial of a child that was found quite deep under the feet of burial 4 (ill. 44). We will have to wait for more dates to decide if all the other jar burials12, which were most likely dedicated to children, belong to mortuary period I. Burial 7 is more likely from phase I, because this complex included a funnel rim pot typical of Go O Chua. Furthermore, none of the jar burials contained gold or silver offerings, and on the whole they were rather modestly furnished. II. All the other 43 graves are unified in period II (about 150/100 BC-AD 100) by the same head orientation to the south, or slightly

12 Jar burials no. 5, 7?, 29, 42, 48.


Chapter 3: Trying to puzzle out the secrets of the burial site

40 Unit D with burials No. 26-51, February 2009 (Photo: A. Reinecke)

13 O.R.T. Janse 1958, 39.

to the southwest. This misalignment of the north-south axis is minimal, and we should note that people did not dig a burial pit with a compass in their hands. Therefore, we have allowed for a generous definition of ‘south’ for the head orientation. In all prehistoric cultures, a change in the orientation of the body is a notable break that can refer to cultural or religious changes, or can be the result of ethnic change by immigration (see Chapter 11). It could be that the burial orientation in a cemetery is a reflection of the daily lives of the inhabitants. For example, the Swedish archaeologist Olov R.T. Janse hypothesized that the orientation of the houses at Dong Son, Thanh Hoa province, in northern Vietnam, was reflected in similarly oriented graves13. Thus, it seems that the orientation of the burials at Prohear changed in the second half of the 2nd century BC. Ancient ceramic vessels, similar to some types mentioned from Go O Chua, were also found within the mortuary period II in Prohear in the burials 9, 12 and 16. This could indicate that these are complexes from an early phase within period II, a period we call mortuary phase IIa (about 150/100-100/50 BC). Unfortunately, at present not all ceramic vessels from Prohear are restored and recon-

Chapter 3: Trying to puzzle out the secrets of the burial site


41 Unit C with burials No. 20-23, May 2008 (Photo: A. Reinecke)

structed. Thus, we must wait to see whether more of these ‘ancient vessels’ become recognizable and would point toward a continued ceramic tradition from mortuary period I to IIa, despite the drastic change of the burial orientation (ill. 45). The next burials to discuss are those that belong to the latest phase of mortuary period II, that we call phase IIb (about 100/50 BC-AD 100) based on the typical grave goods and some radiocarbon dates (see Chapter 8.1). At first, we placed two graves (No. 4 and 44) in this late phase because they have fine orangeware ceramics similar to those found at Angkor Borei in Takeo province14. In the looted burials at Prohear, villagers normally found these fine ceramics together with bronze drums, exactly as discovered in burial 4. Because the offerings of burial 44 are not yet restored, it is still difficult to recognize additional similar characteristics between both these graves. Nevertheless, burial 4 provides some helpful clues as to what was en vogue in the final phase IIb at Prohear. First and foremost, typical for this time period were bronze drums, ‘buffalo bracelets’ made from bronze or iron, imported bronzes like a bowl or bell, most of the gold and silver offerings, and also rich jewelry including beads made from agate, carnelian and glass (see Chapter 7.1).

14 S.S. Fehrenbach 2009, 141-142. The fine orangeware is seen as diagnostic of Phase II at Angkor Borei (200 BC-AD 300), S.S. Fehrenbach 2009, 5-6.


Chapter 3: Trying to puzzle out the secrets of the burial site

42 Burial 21, found with garnet beads but no goldsilver offerings, was found with the head pointing to the west. The burial was 25 cm deeper than the head of burial 20, which had a southnorth orientation and was equipped with ceramics and offerings of iron, glass and gold/silver, May 2008 (Photo: A. Reinecke)

15 See chapter 4, ill. 50, chapter 7.6, ill. 79, 80; this radiocarbon date is discussed in chapter 8.1.

Which other burials besides 4 and 44 could belong to phase IIb? This phase includes burials no. 2 and 10, due to their bronze drum fragments, as well as burials 3, 33, and 46 because of their unusual gold objects. Moreover, burial 33 is also furnished with a bronze bowl typical of the Han period (see Chapter 7.5). Finally, burial 47, which is equipped with a bell and disc or shallow bowl, may also belong to phase IIb, although the radiocarbon date is older and the burial was found quite deep15. Currently, we can select burials 2, 3, 4, 10, 33, 44, 46 and 47, a total of eight graves, for the final mortuary phase IIb. Certainly, we will have to refine this classification and will add some more period II inhumations with less significant offerings to phase IIb. However, at the present stage of our analysis we have already reached the limit of our interpretation based on the available data. The further division of all burials into the different mortuary phases will depend on the continued progress of the restoration work, especially with the copious ceramics. Thus far, we have an exciting preliminary example: in six of the eight burials that we distinguished as belonging to phase IIb, we found a small bottle with a globular body and a very restricted aperture, similar to type 10a at Go O Chua (ill. 45:2, 7). This does not

Chapter 3: Trying to puzzle out the secrets of the burial site


43 These three graves may be of three children buried side by side: Jar burial 48, between burial 47, of a 9-year-old boy with his head to the south, and burial 49, of a 6-year-old child with the head oriented to the west; March 2009 (Photo: A. Reinecke) 44 The mortuary vessel from burial 5 (diam. 45 cm) with cover (mouth diam. 29 cm). Inside the jar were a pig mandible, a bronze bangle, and the bones of a child (Photo: A. Reinecke)

look like a pure coincidence. This bottle has never been found in a mortuary period I burial, but was discovered in six additional period II burials that haven’t yet been more specifically classified. Should they also be ‘candidates’ for phase IIb? Moreover it is remarkable that at Go O Chua, the graves furnished with high-pedestalled bowls or high pots with a funnel-shaped rim are very common (in 21 of 64 burials), while small bottles with a globular body are more infrequent (found in only three graves). These small bottles have never been discovered together with the aforementioned bowls or pots. Based on the huge number of bottles found in mortuary phase IIb at Prohear, we must now seriously reconsider the chronology at Go O Chua. Perhaps a few burials with small bottles are from a later, unexpected mortuary phase at Go O Chua dating to the 1st century BC, but had fewer burial offerings than contemporary inhumations at Prohear. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the high-pedestalled bowls belong to the most ancient ceramic ware group of Phase I at Angkor Borei16, which corresponds to the burials

16 After S.S. Fehrenbach (2009) and M.T. Stark (2001) they belong to the “Burnished Earthenware group” which should be diagnostic of Phase I at Angkor Borei (c. 500–200 BC) – see S.S. Fehrenbach 2009, 32, Fig. 3.2, Tag 689.2, and p. 33.


Chapter 3: Trying to puzzle out the secrets of the burial site

45 The pottery vessels from Go O Chua in Long An province (above) are very similar to the ceramics from mortuary phase IIa in Prohear (bottom) (Photos: A. Reinecke; drawing: Tô Trần Bích Thúy) 17 S.S. Fehrenbach, p. 176, Subclass Ib, Tag 2758; they belong to his Phase II of the ceramic chronology (c. 200 BC – AD 300), see p. 48. 18 M. T. Stark 2001, 28; S.S. Fehrenbach 2009, 29.

dating from the 4th to the 2nd century BC of Go O Chua, but the small bottles belong to a later Phase II at Angkor Borei17. These small bottles are a very interesting kind of ceramic and have not been discovered in the adjacent Sa Huynh culture. They are only about 6-7 cm high, but have a belly diameter up to 12 cm. With such an unusual shape and because the restricted aperture can be closed perfectly with a cork or stopper, they likely only contained special liquids, such as medicine, intoxicating liquors, aromatic oils, ointment, or even precious seeds. The chronological framework for the ceramics at Go O Chua, dating from the 4th-1st century BC, and for Vat Komnou, dating from the 2nd century BC to AD 300, is quite broad18. Therefore at present we can only suggest that mortuary period I at Prohear began during the main mortuary phases of Go O Chua, and that mortuary period II of Prohear should be parallel with the latest burials of Go O Chua and the first half of Vat Komnou (ill. 119).


Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society
In many ways, burials reflect the destiny and status of people. However, burial customs and grave goods were marked by rules and influences that we do not know, and are only vaguely perceptible after 2000 years. During that ancient time, gravestones with information about the person who died were not common, unlike present times. It would be conceivable that the ancient graves were marked by wooden or stone steles or bamboo posts, but we did not find any traces of this at Prohear. In this cemetery, like at most other Bronze-Iron Age burial sites in Cambodia and southern Vietnam, the dead were normally interred in a grave pit lying on their back with straight legs and the arms along the body, or bent with the hands on the stomach or chest. In many graves the skeletal remains were not preserved, however the head orientation could be determined with the help of the position of earrings, bracelets or other jewelry in the burial (ill. 46). We already reported that in most inhumations the head faced south, or was slightly angled to the southwest. At the Iron Age cemetery of Phum Snay in northwest Cambodia, Dougald J.W. O’Reilly has observed that a “grave cut was lined with a very hard substance, probably resin (burial 6_03)” or “with bamboo” (burial 14_03)19. Thus far, we have not detected similar traces at Prohear and the remains of wooden coffins have never been found. Perhaps the dead of Prohear were wrapped in a mat before they were interred in the grave pit. This type of burial, found at the Iron Age cemetery of Prey Khmeng in Siem Reap province, was on display in an exhibition at the National Museum in Phnom Penh in 2009. This burial custom is also described by the Chinese envoy Zhou Daguan (about 1270-1350) in his accounts on Cambodia and the Khmer from the end of 13th century. He notes, “When people die there are no coffins. The body is just kept on a kind of bamboo mat and covered with a cloth”20. We have only a single piece of evidence that a mat could also have been used in Prohear. On the bronze drum from burial 4, traces of a wattle mat are preserved. Because the drum

19 A. von den Driesch / D.J.W. O’Reilly / V. Voeun 2006, 108. 20 Zhou Daguan 1297/2007, 66.


Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society

46 Burials 3 and 12 in Unit A. 1 – Burial 3: Two bowls were placed with their mouths directly on both sides of the unpreserved skull. 2 – After taking off the bowl on the left side and looking inside, we found two gold earrings. When we took off the second bowl on the right side, we found four more earrings that look more like silver. 3/4 – Burial 12: A goblet covered the left side of the skull perhaps of a man. 5 – Under the goblet we found two spiral rings made from silver or gold and a silver earring (Photos: 1-2 A. Reinecke; 3-5 Seng Sonetra)

21 C. Pottier 2006, 305. 22 C. Higham / T. Higham 2009, 130. 23 Nguyễn Việt 2006, 88-89; J. Cameron 2006, 196-198.

contained a human skull, it is conceivable that the drum together with the corpse was wrapped into a mat woven from bamboo fibers (ill. 47). Wrapping the dead body in a wattle mat or woven shroud was a common and a widespread practice in that area, as suggested by additional observations at the Bronze Age burial site of Koh Ta Meas in Siem Reap province21. Apparently, it was not unusual to combine this practice with the use of wooden coffins, like those at the Bronze Age period 2 burial complex (1000-900 BC) from Ban Non Wat in northeastern Thailand22. As well as from some Iron Age burial sites of the Dong Son culture (600 BC-AD 100) like from Dong Xa in Hung Yen province or Yen Bac in Ha Nam province in northern Vietnam23. A very specific burial custom of the rich at Prohear was to be buried with their head in a bronze drum, as we discovered in burial 4 (ill. 47 and 63). Villagers told us, that they observed this strange mortuary custom many times. Until now, this funeral custom was only known beyond Southeast Asia, from the burial site Kele in the

Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society


47 The south part of burial 4: The skull of a woman with jewelry on her ears, neck and hair was placed inside the drum. South of the drum were some pots (Photo: Seng Sonetra). On the top of the drum we found traces of a woven mat, perhaps made from strips of bamboo (Photo: A. Reinecke)

southern Chinese province of Guizhou. We will come back to this issue in chapter 12. Burials at Prohear, but also at many other cemeteries, are enclosed on both sides by rows of broken ceramics. Complete pottery vessels are normally found beyond the head or at the feet. Less often, small vessels were placed directly on the stomach of the person (ill. 48). Due to the acidic soil conditions in Prohear, food remains are just as poorly preserved as the human skeletons. However, we know from


Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society
the Go O Chua site that small, circular cord-marked pots near the head kept the remains of fish and pork bones for the last meal on the way to the afterlife. The same is assumed for Prohear’s burials. To be able to tell something about the fate of the individuals of Prohear, the skeletal remains must be examined and have to be correlated and interpreted in context with the offerings. This interpretation often walks a fine line between truth and speculation, but is worth the trouble and risk. Unfortunately, no skeletal remains survived in half of the graves due to the soil conditions, especially in the upper layers of the ground as the destruction of burials left only ceramics at one end of a burial in their original place. This destruction is the main reason that we found only some bones or teeth in an additional quarter of the graves. The best preserved interments come from graves from a deeper layer, about 0.90-1.45 meters under the surface24. In view of this desolate situation, it is even more astonishing what our anthropologist, Simone Krais (Freiburg), could find out about the ancient people of Prohear during several weeks of cleaning, preservation, and investigation of all the small bone fragments and teeth in the Memot Centre in April / May, 2009 (see Chapter 8.2). In 52 burials, women, men and children of different ages have found their final resting place. Thus, Prohear is a typical ‘mixed’ occupancy cemetery like most other Metal Age burial sites in this region. Let’s have a look at the statistics. Unfortunately, from about one dozen graves there were no evaluable anthropological or archaeological artifacts available to classify them as ‘child, woman, or man’. When we take all the evidence together, as well as the ‘vague suspicions,’ then we have a total of 6 men, 18 women and 17 children (Infants I and II). This demographic distribution may be surprising, however, it is explicable. The high child mortality for Prohear’s population 2000 years ago fits in well with some other burial sites of the same period. This is much more representative for a prehistoric group than the ratio found at Go O Chua, which had only seven child interments out of a total of 52 anthropologically evaluable dead. As a comparison, at the Bronze Age burial site of Ban Lum Khao (1250-400 BC) in northeastern Thailand the estimation of age resulted in 51 children of 110 individuals25. At the later Iron Age cemetery of Noen U-Loke

24 Burials 4, 15, 16, 19, 21, 33 and 49. 25 K.M. Domett 2004, 117.

Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society


48 Burial 22 in Unit C, May 2008 (Photo: L. Reinecke)

(300 BC-AD 400) also in northeastern Thailand, the result shows 53 subadults (less than 14 years old) out of a total of 120 individuals26. Unlike Ban Lum Khao and Noen U-Loke, our census for Prohear is not based strictly on bio-anthropological considerations alone, as that will be published later in another venue. Here we want to draw as complete a picture of the ancient population of Prohear as we can with the missing skeletons. Therefore we will also consider the archaeological sex and age determinations, diagnostic evidence that we do not have from Go O Chua or from many other contemporary cemeteries. From some of the 17 child burials at Prohear we have no bone, but instead have finger rings or bracelets from four burials that fit around the finger or wrist of a child. In addition to the anthropological estimate of eight child burials, we also speculate that all five jar burials represent children, although we are not yet able to prove this hypothesis. However, early Iron Age jar burials found in the region of the Pre-Funan culture are almost always used as graves for chil-

26 K. Domett / N. Tayles 2006, 225.


Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society

49 Stone pestles with traces of use were found in different looted (1-5) and excavated burials (6-7) placed between the thighs of men (Photo: A. Reinecke)

27 A. Reinecke / Nguyễn Chiều / Lâm Thị Mỹ Dung 2002; A. Reinecke 2004, 223228. 28 For this issue see K.M. Domett (2001) on the basis of records from several analyzed burial sites in Thailand from the period 2000400 BC. 29 For a summary of this topic see E. Scott 1999, esp. pp. 90.

dren. By this separate practice for children, contemporary sites in Cambodia are distinctly separate from the burial custom of the Sa Huynh culture distributed between central Vietnam and the Dong Nai River area in southern Vietnam. In this burial custom, children as well as adults were buried in jar burials of different sizes, but inhumations are rarer27. To understand the unusually high proportion of children in the midst of the remaining burials in the early Iron Age cemeteries we have to consider factors such as health, which can be very different from area to area28, but also culturally conditioned causes. For example, one such reason could be that in some communities, small children may have not been buried in the midst of the adult’s graves or may not have been interred at ‘normal’ cemeteries at all. Another reason could be that without skeletal remains a child’s grave may not be recognized as such because its offerings are not unlike that of an adult29. What are we to make of the disproportionate burials of men and women? Is it only the side effect of a small-scale excavation? In com-

Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society
parison, the ‘neighbors’ from Go O Chua had a very well-balanced burial distribution of 20 women and 21 men. At Vat Komnou the male to female ratio is the reverse of Prohear as more than twice as many men as women were buried (24:10)30. During this time period complications during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period caused a higher maternal mortality. This cannot be the argument for the more numerous female inhumations at Prohear, but it is a primary reason for the lower average age of women at prehistoric sites. As hypotheses we might consider two explanations for a situation like Prohear, with women’s burials outnumbering men. Firstly, the men could have died hunting or fighting far away from home, and were buried elsewhere near the scene of the accident or not buried at all. This could be true at Prohear31. Secondly, burials of men could be more difficult to identify by their archaeological artifacts than women. This is not true at Prohear because both genders have specific offerings. For example, men often are identified by phallicshaped stone pestles between the legs. Although during our excavations this was observed in only two interments (burials 2 and 11), the villagers told us that they had found many such stones. They handed over almost a dozen of these typically male objects to us, which so far have not been found at other cemeteries in this region (ill. 49). Furthermore, the skeletal remains in burial 47 were identified by Simone Krais as belonging to a 9-year-old child whose face was covered with a bronze disc. We interpret the bronze bell between the upper thighs of the child as a symbol for a boy (ill. 50, 79, 80; Chapter 7.6). The diameters of bracelets or finger rings from bronze, gold, silver, or iron also allow us to distinguish a woman, man, or child. The bronze buffalo bracelet and the silver finger ring from grave 4 do not fit on the arm or finger of a man (ill. 51; Chapter 7.4). Another example is a gold finger ring in burial 50 (ill. 68:10) that is also not compatible on the smallest finger of a woman and must originally have adorned a child’s hand. The gender or age specificity of spindle whorls, jewelry, or weapons are less clear, although the general idea that ‘more richly decorated women’ and ‘stronger armed men’ as a basic trend widely matches our observations in Prohear. Let’s start with the clay spindle


30 M. Pietrusewsky / R. Ikehara-Quebral 2006, 86. 31 For Phum Snay with a ratio of 10 women and 5 men K.M. Domett / D.J.W. O’Reilly 2009, 73, came to similar considerations, however the sample size is very small.


Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society
whorls as indicators for yarn production for making textiles (see Chapter 5). This work which certainly lay in the hands of women, and thus they are often found in women’s graves. We must be certain that a spindle whorl did not fall by chance into the grave pit as it was re-filled. That means that at best they are discovered in close contact or clear context with the dead person, and the more spindle whorls that are found in the grave, the greater the probability that these are offerings to a woman. Thus, six spindle whorls in burial 33 and four items in the neighboring burial 34 are clear evidence that we have the burials of two women. The other offerings in both graves (bracelets, finger ring, and rich beads) support this interpretation. In only one of our probable men’s graves (no. 12) did we find fragments of a spindle whorl. For this inhumation it is more important that it was equipped with a gold-silver finger ring that without a doubt fits only on a man’s finger. At present, the number of published cemeteries with many spindle whorl offerings and preserved skeletons for anthropological analysis are still smaller than one would expect. However at Phum Snay, spindle whorls are also reported as typical for burials of women32. The Bronze Age site of Ban Lum Khao in Nakhon Ratchasima province provides us with 112 burials, 110 analyzed individuals, and settlement layers with a rich collection of 96 spindle whorls33. But only eight items were found scattered loosely in burials of women, men and children34, the situation is apparently the same at the Iron Age cemetery of Noen U-Loke35. The fact that the 9-year-old boy in grave 47 was equipped with two spindle whorls can be interpreted in such a way that children helped their mother in the production of textiles, until they were able to take over typical male roles. This is confirmed by grave 27 where a 5-7-year-old child was furnished with four spindle whorls. That shows that children are not just ‘miniature adults’ but have their own role in life and death. In general, it is expected that men were buried with more iron tools or weapons and women buried with more gold-silver or beads and jewelry. An example of a characteristically male offering is grave 40, with a short sword, socketed axe, dagger, blade, and a pricker (as far as the unrestored iron objects are identifiable), but no beads at all. The only jewelry this well-armed man wore was a silver bracelet

32 K.M. Domett / D. J.W. O’Reilly 2009, 60. 33 J. Cameron 2004, 211. 34 C.F.W. Higham / R. Thosarat 2004, 99. 35 S. Talbot 2007, 335, table 18:9, and 338-339, table 18:13.

Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society


50 Burial 47 is the inhumation of a 9year-old boy. His face was covered with a bronze disc, maybe a shallow bowl or an adornment disc (1). Between his thighs a bronze bell was deposited (2) (Illustration: A. Reinecke)

(ill. 52) on his right wrist and a bronze bracelet on his left. Thus, gold or silver jewelry adorned not only women, but also men and children! As an impressive example for the much more jewelry-focused offerings of women we will later describe burial 4, one of the richest women at Prohear (see Chapter 7.1).


Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society
Interestingly, there are also graves that seem to be correlated with each other. For one exciting example we can discuss the people in the two neighboring graves 2 and 3, who were found with similar ceramic sets with at least 10 vessels of the same types: small bottles for a special liquid (ill. 45:7), circular cord-marked pots for food (ill. 45:10), basin-shaped pots with wide-opened mouth (ill. 60, last row, second-left), large jars with a globular body and narrow mouth (similar ill. 60, right), and shallow bowls with a low foot – the classic rice bowl (ill. 60, front-right). Therefore, both graves might belong to the same mortuary phase IIb. However, the remaining offerings are clearly different and indicate gender. Burial 2 is certainly the inhumation of a young man who was equipped with weapons and tools from bronze or iron, as well as some agate beads, glass, and gold jewelry, an iron bracelet and a bronze bracelet which fits the wrist of a man, and finally a stone pestle between his thighs. In this context it is also interesting that this man’s burial contained two handle fragments of a bronze drum, probably the remains of a drum that normally laid near the head but that had already been taken by looters, similar to burial 10. This assumption could not be clarified completely because the southern end of burial 2 met the wall of excavation Unit A which was disturbed, and the southern part of burial 10 was destroyed by a horizontal looting pit. In contrast, the person in burial 3 seems to be a woman in her twenties (ill. 46:1-2). She was laid to rest without weapons or iron tools, but with two spindle whorls and much richer gold and silver jewelry than in neighboring grave 2. Thus, it seems quite possible that we have found a couple. Another unusual offering was found in grave 15. On both sides of the skull lay 20 glass earrings, which were apparently threaded on a string made from organic material. Additionally based on a bioarchaeological estimation, the remains were probably of a man in his prime, and he was furnished with some bronze bracelets and iron tools or weapons as well as some dozen garnet beads. The inhumation with head orientation to the south-southwest was buried deeply in Unit A and might belong to the mortuary phase IIa (ill. 53). The same kind of eye-catching earring ornament made from many glass rings was found in burial 49, the deepest of all graves in Units A-D, with the head to the west, typical for a period I inhumation. Appar-

Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society


51 A ‘buffalo bracelet’ from the right arm of the skeleton in burial 4 fits perfectly on the forearm of a woman (Photo: A. Reinecke)

ently, this special ear-ornament and the preference for garnet beads, just like many local ceramic types, ‘survived’ the new cultural influence that led to the change of burial orientation. Of course, we are not only interested in the different funeral customs and offerings of women, men or children, but we also want to know more about the structure of this community in Prohear 2000 years ago. We want to know: who was foreign and who was local? Are there social differences? And how numerous was the population that used this cemetery? Unfortunately, the 52 currently discovered graves are not enough to deliver ‘hard facts’ on all these questions. Here we have to work with ‘hook and eye’ and have to consider some details to acquire preliminary answers. Of these questions, it will be easiest to get an idea about the ratio of strangers in the community. For that, 20 tooth fragments from


Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society

52 Silver bracelet (diam. 6.2 x 5.5 cm), before restoration and partly coated with black patina from burial 40, most likely a man who was the only person of all 52 excavated burials equipped with a short-sword (Photo: A. Reinecke)

different individuals in the cemetery were given to Mike Schweissing (Munich) for ongoing strontium isotope investigations. These results will inform us about precisely how many persons grew up in Prohear versus those who immigrated from another area (see Chapter 8.3). Because of so many strange offerings, e.g. the high number of observed and sold bronze drums, we expect a high ratio of ‘immigrated people’. Approaching social status of groups or wealth differences between individuals is more difficult. Indeed, we can distinguish ‘poor’ from ‘rich’ interments by estimating the value of offerings of every individual. But from this we only infer the actual wealth of the dead as ‘living persons’ in Prohear 2000 years ago. After the excavation of 52 graves, we can say firstly that the Iron Age burial site of Prohear belongs amongst the most richly equipped cemeteries dating from 200 BC-AD 100 ever discovered in Southeast Asia. The different combinations and the individual character of the offerings allow us to assume that for the population at that time, it was absolutely important to give the dead not just anything, but what they also most cherished and needed while still alive. Although there was a clear ‘regulation’ of the head orientation (see Chapter 11.1), this was not the same for the burial goods. With the offerings, the individualism could run free and was amazingly broad. However, we cannot tell in detail how much the dying person or his family reduced their offerings in order to increase the ‘inheritance’ for the descendants. Or

Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society
on the contrary, in which the range of offerings available were gifts from the generous mourners. Thus, we have to be careful to attribute a higher social status to some individuals only on the basis of more or less offerings. The majority of all dead seemingly got a funeral of almost the same kind and size. The whole problem becomes a little bit trickier due to the fact that we estimate ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ with our present understanding of ‘wealth’. Thereby, we have only a restricted image of what was really valuable for people 2000 years ago: ten pigs in the stable or two silver finger rings in the grave? Was iron jewelry more valuable than glass ornaments? All this is quite different from culture to culture and from time to time. Thus we know for example that for the Chinese up to the Han period, jade was a ‘magic stone’ as popular as gold or silver36. In one of the richest burials of pre-Imperial context in China, tomb 2 of Yimencun near Baoji city in Shaanxi province dating from the late 6th century BC, there were about 100 jade items and more than three kilograms of gold ornaments. It is summarized that “gold is rarely encountered in early China and although known to have been considered precious, it seems to have played no role in defining sumptuary distinctions”37. As in most other Southeast Asian cultures, gold was considered to be more valuable than silver, as evidenced by some silver rings that were wrapped with gold foil from Prohear (see Chapter 8.4). In 1859, during his three months stay amongst the Stieng (Stiên) near the border area of the present provinces of Kampong Cham and Tay Ninh, Henri Mouhot observed that “a buffalo or an ox is valued at six armfuls of thick brass wire”38. Of course such exchange rates are changing all the time, especially under the influence of new contacts. For a modern example of this we can remember the barter of Kong Sung who gave six bronze drums for a water buffalo (Chapter 2, p. 38). The early history of the ‘internal social scale of value’ of Southeast Asian populations is widely unknown, and until now we have only been able to guess on the basis of records of external trade activities. These must absolutely not be identical with regional wealth standards39. Archaeological records on this issue are few. A unique example is a bronze plaque from a Shizhaishan grave in Yunnan,


36 E.C. Bunker 1993, 27, 47-48. 37 L. v. Falkenhausen 2006, 224-225. 38 H. Mouhot 1864/1992, vol. I, 253. 39 See “Grave goods and status” in M. Parker Pearson 1999, 78-79; R.S. Wicks 1992, esp. 19-65, 183-218.


Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society

53 Inhumation 15, possibly a man between 20-29-yearsold, with rich offerings: on both ears about 20 blue-green glass earrings (diam. 1.5 cm) were strung together, on both forearms a pair of bronze bracelets were found, additionally he was found with garnet beads (near both corners of the mouth) and some iron tools (brown colored objects near both forearms) (Photo: A. Reinecke)

40 E.C. Bunker 1974, 296.

with a hole at the top it looks like a public list of demands, taxes, or presents that gives an impression about the value of cattle or slaves in relation to other ‘natural items’ in ancient times40. Even if we lack something comparable for Southeast Asia, this singular find points to the fact of how much creatures were cherished. The interpretation of ‘Prohear’s wealth-scale’ is complicated by the destruction of most organic offerings by the soil conditions. Therefore in many burials only some pig’s teeth survived, as they are

Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society
the most resistant of organic materials. These suggest that parts of pigs’ skulls were buried at Prohear, similar to burials at Go O Chua and at other prehistoric cemeteries in this region (see Chapters 8.6 and 11.1). Moreover, we cannot exclude that some burials included precious textiles, feathers of rare birds, or exotic dishes which we can no longer verify. In spite of all these problems inherent in the archaeological record and its interpretation, we can certainly consider burial 4 to be very wealthy, and we will explore it in more depth in chapter 7.1. Next to this rich burial we must also mention the inhumations 33 and 46. They are notable because they appear to be the last resting places of women, like grave 4. Of course, the question immediately arises whether we are confronted with a female-dominated society, a question which we cannot yet answer. In a second ‘richness level’ we want to summarize the burials 2, 3, 12, 15, 40, 47 and 49. Although not all these graves contained precious metals, there were other unusual artifacts such as the aforementioned glass earring-ornaments and a dozen garnet beads found in burials no. 15 (mortuary phase IIa) and 49 (I). For the child’s grave 47 we have to consider two imported bronze objects (Chapter 7.6). In addition, one could discuss the status of burial 10 because of the bronze drum handle, which may be the vestige of a plundered burial. If we are looking for the ‘poorest’ burials then it is not a surprise that we immediately come to the earliest graves: the five jar burials and three inhumations with west-east head orientation (19, 21, 51). From this group, only the previously mentioned and better-equipped burial 49 can be excluded. None of these graves contained precious metal which speaks to the fact that in Prohear, the ‘golden blessing’ did not arise before period II. Additionally we must remember that earlier and later graves cannot be balanced with each other on the same wealth scale. We can ask, which amongst the later undisturbed graves can be identified as ‘poorer’? Actually, only a single grave stands out quite clearly as a ‘poor’ outsider: grave 41 of a 4 to 8year-old child. The special nature of this burial becomes clear when compared with the rich equipment found with a 9-year-old child in burial 47, that lay about 10 meters away.



Chapter 4: More than just burials – insights into an unknown society
Finally, let’s take a risk and estimate the population size of the community that used the burial site of Prohear. The burial density of the excavated units of about 120 square meters projected onto the presumed area of the whole cemetery of 20,000 square meters would result in the incredible number of more than 8000 destroyed graves. We have to reduce this number because we excavated nearly in the site’s center, and the burial density of ancient cemeteries normally decreases near their edges. Let’s assume a minimum of about 1000 graves. We can then speculate that the cemetery was mainly used for about 200 years. In view of the high child mortality and average low life expectancy, we can speculate people lived to about a maximum of 30 years. We would then have to divide 1000 graves into about seven generations and would come to at least 143 people or about 23 ‘three-generation households’ with an average of six people who would have lived at the same time around their cemetery. Again, this is not a demographic analysis on the basis of sufficient hard facts, but a rough ‘minimum estimation’ with more unknown than known factors.



Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear
For some problems there are still no clear solutions. For example, the question of where did the dead of Prohear live? By this we mean they settled not far from the cemetery in areas close to the contemporary burial site, but possibly not longer than needed for funeral purposes. These could be places where generations before were buried, meaning their houses would stand directly above the ‘forgotten’ graves. In contrast, these also could be places where the people settled at first and some decades later moved their houses; burying their dead directly under the former settlement. Although great parts of the rural population in Southeast Asia currently have a distinct fear of the dead, it does not stop many villagers from having burials of previous generations amongst their gardens, in their fields, or next to their houses41.

Cemetery and settlement in a closed neighborhood?
But what makes us think of Prohear as an enclosed area, or a neighborhood, that includes both a settlement and a cemetery? First, in some sections of the upper layers of the excavated units we have discovered scattered sherds, which are not related to any grave and seem to be more likely the remains of settlement earthenware. Also in deeper layers, we find jumbled objects between the burials like spindle whorls, fragments of iron and bronze, or single glass beads without any related context to the burials, indicating that there were settlement remains side by side with burials (ill. 54). Secondly, while excavating in the eastern half of Unit D we found a cultural layer above the burials with so much iron slag that it is beyond any doubt that these must be the remains of an iron workshop. We can assume that this may have taken place very close in time and space to the funeral activities, because some of the slag had direct contact with the upper layer of burial ceramics. Sometimes they were not even separate from the burial offerings42. There was even a glass bead adhered to the bottom side of a piece of slag (ill. 55). Spindle whorls and iron slag are clear evidence for local handicrafts and therefore we want to investigate this in more detail.

41 Similar observations are rarely described in the prehistory of Cambodia. Interestingly, at Phnom Borei a comparable situation led to a contrary interpretation: “Upper artifact layers may indicate a period of occupation post-dating a period when the burial ground was forgotten”, because “Khmer tradition suggests that cemeteries are located far from the main settlements and must be in areas that are not frequently inundated” (K. Phon 2009, 5). At some other sites a closed neighborhood of a settlement and burial site is also suggested, but still lacks a detailed description of the historical sequence, e.g. Go Thap in Dong Thap province (Le Thi Lien 2006). 42 Iron slag was found close to offerings in the following burials in Unit C: burial 20; Unit D: burial 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 47, 51.


Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear

43 There are two examples to help date the rise of this typical village handicraft: An Son in Long An province is a late Neolithic site with settlement layers and burials without any bronze objects or proof of a bronze foundry and can perhaps be dated from the 3rd until the end of the 2nd millennium BC (M. Nishimura / Nguyen Kim Dung 2002, 107). After four excavation campaigns (1997, 2004/2005, 2007, 2009) no spindle whorls have yet been found at An Son (Pers. comm. Bùi Phát Diệm on 26th August 2009). At the Bronze Age settlement and burial site of Doc Chua in Binh Duong province (about 800-400 BC) about 450 spindle whorls were discovered (Ðào Linh Côn / Nguyễn Duy Tỳ 1993, 111-115). This matches well with C. Higham’s observation at Ban Non Wat in northeast Thailand, where spindle whorls are typical for his Bronze Age burials of period 5 dated from 700 to 420 BC (C. Higham / T. Higham 2009, 131, 137).

54 A collection of spindle whorls from both burials and settlement contexts (Photo: A. Reinecke)

Spinning and weaving
Let’s start with the spindle whorls, which were invented many times across the globe. In Southeast Asia there is widespread evidence for local spinning and weaving technology and textile production at sites of the last millennium BC43. Spindle whorls have a hole in the center where they were put on a rod to form a weight for a vertically used hand spindle for twisting and extending fibers. The fibers may have come from ramie or other suitable long-fibrous plants with enough tensile strength to be woven on looms. At Prohear, we discovered 50 spindle whorls in burials, the bulk of which are offerings for women, and 11 samples in settlement context. Altogether, they are typically conically shaped clay weights with a diameter of up to 4 cm, and a height of up to 2 cm (39 pieces), there are also rarer wheel-shaped (7) examples. Spindle whorls are also

Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear
made from round-scratched potsherds (14), which are lighter and sometimes ornamented like the original ceramic vessel (5). However, intentional ornamentation was not en vogue, unlike the collection of 220 spindle whorls from Go O Chua. In Prohear, only five samples have incised decoration made by lines or finger nail imprints. Some items with a weight of only 6 grams are so light that it is hard to believe that they were really used as a weight for the spindle44. This indicates that they were also using a short-fibrous material that heavy weight would break.


Blacksmith in every village
What information can we get from the iron slag cakes scattered over parts of the burial site? After the examination by Thilo Rehren (London) these finds are described as ‘smithing hearth bottoms’. Slag is produced during metal working as the predominantly iron silicate material drips down into the hearth base. If it is not cleared out this develops into the smithing hearth bottom45. These are mostly palm-sized and their shape is more or less plano-convex, oval, or a little bit deformed. Thus they are also called ‘plano-convex bottoms’. Often, at the surface are embedded remains of soil or small stone fragments, as a result of high-temperature reactions between the iron, iron-scale, and silica from either a clay furnace lining or the silica flux used by the smith46. These artifacts are left near the production area and are important evidence for a metal smith in the settlement. Smithing hearth bottoms are discovered at many sites of the pre-Christian Iron Age in Southeast Asia, but not always noticed and seldom published in such detail as at the site of Khao Sam Kaeo in Chumphon province in the Upper Thai-Malay Peninsula47. Local iron working at Prohear 2000 years ago is also suggested by the iron ‘buffalo bracelets’, an item rarely discovered at other sites in this region and only known from looted burials with an unknown context (ill. 56)48. The creation in iron of this rare ornament type was probably inspired by bronze ‘buffalo bracelets’ that may have originated in northeastern Thailand (cf. Chapter 7.4). For a more detailed overview of the other local iron products from Prohear site we will have to wait for the completion of the restoration. At present it seems

44 The spindle whorls from Ban Lum Khao weighed between 6-56 grams – J. Cameron 2004, 211. 45 R.F. Tylecote 1987, 318-319. 46 Pers. comm. Thilo Rehren on 8th July 2009. 47 T.O. Pryce / B. Bellina-Pryce / A.T.N. Bennett 2006, 297-298. 48 During looting at the burial site at Phum Snay it could be possible that not only bronze ‘buffalo bracelets’ were found, but also some made from iron.


Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear

55 The palmsized hearth bottoms from metal-smithing discovered in a settlement context or sometimes directly on the burials. On the surface of one sample a glass bead is fixed (Photos: A. Reinecke)

that socketed axes, bracelets, and blades for knives or daggers were buried with the dead (ill. 57, 101, 102). Certainly, early Iron Age smithing hearths are less frequently discovered in Southeast Asia than slag. A large clay fragment that was brought to light during a joint excavation of the German Archaeological Institute with archaeologists from the University of Hanoi and the Provincial Museum Long An in 2005 at Go O Chua provides a first impression of a smithing hearth with blower. This burnt clay object, with an oblique hole through it, was part of the tuyeresegment of the wall around a smithing hearth. It was found on the ground of a burial pit, near some iron slag and the skull of a person

Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear
buried during the 4th-1st century BC. We are not sure if it is really an offering, even though it was found in a grave, or if it found its way into the ground beneath the skeleton by chance. A similar complex was discovered at Noen U-Loke in northeastern Thailand and is described as “small clay furnace equipped with tuyeres”49. These three almost contemporaneous sites suggest that a blacksmith was part of daily life in nearly every village, as early as the preFunan era in the region between northeastern Thailand and southern Vietnam. This is true no matter if the settlement was rich like Prohear or poor like Go O Chua. The list of early Iron Age sites with smithing slags in the southern part of mainland Southeast Asia could be made more complete through a re-examination of the museum deposits. These important remains of early ironworking are often not well described in the brief excavation reports50. If we realize that the first iron objects existed in this region just prior to 400 BC, then this is the verification of metal working as a common handicraft during 3rd-1st BC. It is a surprising indication of the timely manner in which new professions could be established despite the raw material having to be imported.


Iron ingots from the north?
Still we cannot say from where and in what way the raw iron came to the early blacksmiths in southeast Cambodia. It is absolutely conceivable that iron was transported over far distances as blooms or ingots or that useless iron objects were recycled and reformed. Iron ore deposits or iron smelting places are unknown in the surrounding areas of both Prohear and Go O Chua, and are not expected to be found in the future51. However small-scale local iron sources, which at present could be fully depleted or still not recorded, cannot yet be excluded. Usually, iron production sites are situated near iron ore deposits and in some distance from occupied areas to ensure a steady supply of a great amount of firewood or charcoal, without destruction of basic life and work in the settlements. During the iron smelting process, huge slag dumps and ash layers are left around the furnace, which are not comparable to the waste around a blacksmith’s place. The early historical records about the ancient Khmer empire do not tell us if iron was imported or exported. Later records primarily

49 C.F.W. Higham 2007, 355. 50 In this regard some objects from Go Thap, province Dong Thap, are worth reviewing (Le Thi Lien 2006). 51 Atlas of Mineral Resources – Cambodia 1993, 33, 78; Lê Văn Trảo / Phạm Văn Mẫn / Thái Quý Lâm / Phạm Vũ Luyến 2005, 33.


Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear

56 A ‘buffalo bracelet’ made from iron (diam. 5.7 x 8.3 cm). Its long horn ends are broken and lost. This object was recovered from a looted burial (Photo: A. Reinecke)

52 J. Moura 1882; B. Dupaigne 1992. 53 H. Mouhot 1864/1992, vol. I, 244. 54 H. Mouhot 1864/1992, vol. II, 26-27; G.C. Hickey 1982, 179, 225; no information in Lê Văn Trảo / Phạm Văn Mẫn / Thái Quý Lâm / Phạm Vũ Luyến 2005, 33.

mention iron ore deposits in northern Cambodia, at Phnom Deck, near Rovieng town, and in the whole of Preah Vihear province. However, this is still at least 150 km north-northwest from Prohear. The area of the Kuy minority, north of Kampong Thom, is the center of the traditional ironworking in Cambodia52. Moreover, ironworking is also recounted from their close neighbors ‘southeast of the big river’, the Stieng in Kampong Cham53. Additionally, one can go a few hundred kilometers northwards to the Jarai (Giaraïe) settlement areas, or further north to Sedang (Cédan) in Dac Lac, Gia Lai, Kon Tum provinces to see traditional iron smelting or smithing54.

Pottery production
Apart from iron and textile-working, we did not detect any other handicrafts at Prohear. This includes pottery production, which doubtlessly existed, but for which we did not find hearths, fireplaces, nor misfired pottery dumps or ash layers. Potters tools, like mushroom-shaped ceramic anvils for shaping the vessels, are typical artifacts at Go O Chua in southern Vietnam and Noen U-Loke in northeastern Thailand, but are still lacking at Prohear. The reason for this lack of evidence in Prohear could be that so far only 120 square

Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear


57 Socketed iron axe (length 12.3 cm), a recovered object from a looted burial (Photo: A. Reinecke)

meters of the approximately 20,000 square meters are excavated. The only artifacts that may have been related to pottery production are some round chipped sherds that were found scattered across various layers as well as in different burials55. They are similar in size, about 3-4 cm, and generally made by grinding down body fragments from large vessels into a circular edge. The edge shows traces of scraping and could have been used as a tool in throwing ceramic vessels. In Go O Chua, some hundreds of these round-sherds were found. However, this interpretation can only be verified in a context with more indicators for pottery production. Sometimes these round-sherds were also called ‘game-sherds’ and have been interpreted as children’s toys.

Bronze casting
It is tempting to assume that all the bronze drums and bracelets could have been produced directly at Prohear or nearby surroundings by immigrant bronze casters, but presently there is no evidence for this. We have not yet found evidence for smelting and casting of bronze at Prohear, not even a small fragment of any casting mold from stone or clay. Moreover, for the 1st millennium BC we know of only a small number of sandstone molds from the deep Cambodian interior from

55 Burials 6 (2 pieces) and 10.


Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear
O Pie Can in the Mlu Prei region (Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear provinces) or from Samrong Sen56. In addition, we must mention a mold fragment perhaps of a bronze bowl from an unknown context at the Iron Age burial site Phum Snay, which is similar to a bowl found in burial 33 from Prohear (ill. 78)57. This was a very unexpected find because these bronze bowls have been assumed to have a southern Chinese origin. Should this artifact be confirmed, then the hypothesis of ‘itinerant craftsmen’ from southern China or elsewhere would get a new push. The long distance to known copper-tin deposits in Southeast Asia also works against local bronze casting in the surroundings of Prohear. So far, profitable copper or tin sources are not known in this region. One must ask why historical listings include copper and tin as local products58. The nearest tin deposits are located about 320 km to the east in the southern surroundings of Da Lat59. It is hard to believe that tin resources of Knong Ay in Kampong Speu province, discovered in 1964 with “no exploitable concentrations of cassiterite”60 played any role in earlier times. Profitable deposits of copper are not found any closer central Vietnam, but there is also no evidence for exploitation in ancient times61. Altogether we can sum up that the indications for local bronze casting within the borders of the present-day Cambodia are very few, not only for the early Metal Age but for all periods. This could be because of the current state of research on the subject. It seems more likely that final bronze products, not ingots, were imported from casting workshops situated near the deposits or trade routes. Favored suppliers are bronze workshops in the Khao Wong Prachan Valley in central Thailand or the Phu Lon site on the banks of the Mekong River near Vientiane in northern Thailand, with direct access to copper62. At Phu Lon the major mining activities occurred during the 1st millennium BC63. Foundries in northeastern Thailand near the Mun or Mekong Rivers, two ‘highways’ of that period, may have carried out both production and acted as an intermediary for customers in present-day Cambodia. This is suggested by the great quantity of molds and other workshop remains in this region64. In contrast, we also have to consider possible suppliers from the Dong Nai River area, which is much closer to southeast Cambodia.

56 P. Levy 1943, 38-39. 57 Pers. comm. Dougald J.W. O’Reilly on 24th July 2009. 58 B.-P. Groslier 2006, 116-117. 59 Dương Đức Kiêm / Thái Qúy Lâm / Nguyễn Ngọc Liên / Phạm Vũ Luyến 2005, 56. 60 Atlas of Mineral Resources – Cambodia 1993, 39; B. Bronson 1992, 80, 83-84. 61 Dương Đức Kiêm / Thái Qúy Lâm / Nguyễn Ngọc Liên / Phạm Vũ Luyến 2005, 56, 68; Atlas of Mineral Resources – Cambodia 1993, 39, 21-23; B. Bronson 1992, 78-79. 62 C. Higham 2001, 17. 63 S. Natapintu 1988; V.C. Pigott / G. Weisgerber 1998, 140, 151; T.O. Pryce / V.C. Pigott 2008. 64 In this context, as example for an interesting recently discovered complex is a burial from Ban Non Wat of a bronze founder who was equipped with 29 clay bivalve molds that is dated in his Bronze Age – Period 4 (800-400 BC) (C. Higham / T. Higham 2009, 131).

Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear


58 Bronze casting molds have not yet been discovered at Prohear. This piece is a half of a ceramic bivalve mold (5.5 cm wide) from a settlement context on the northern hillock of Go O Chua and was used for casting a socketed axe (length 8.3 cm) more than 2500 years ago (Photo: A. Reinecke)

This area is also known for having a strong bronze working tradition as attested by the many casting sites and numerous molds and characteristic bronze artifacts dating to the first half of the first millennium BC. At the Bronze Age site of Doc Chua in Binh Duong province, at present 70 km away from the sea-coast, a rich collection of more than 70 fragments of sandstone molds was excavated65. Some other more coastally-oriented sites take second place to Doc Chua, but their artifacts were primarily collected from the surface, rather than excavated. For example, at Cai Van and Cai Lang in Dong Nai province, two adjacent sites in a salt marsh, there are 35 stone and ceramic molds without exact dates. Or as a final example, the Bung Bac site in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, which has provided about 30 fragments of sandstone molds66.

65 Đào Linh Côn / Nguyễn Duy Tỳ 1993, 74-91. 66 Phạm Đức Mạnh 1996, 35, 135-148; 2007.


Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear

59 ‘Undercover archaeologists’ are under the close watch of ‘village experts’ (Photo: L. Reinecke)

67 A. Reinecke 2009b. 68 A. Reinecke 2008, 401.

These are all settlements in which bronze casting probably started shortly after the beginning of the last millennium BC, and at that time were situated within earshot of the sea. Although hard to believe, that seems true as well for the Bronze Age settlement and salt boiling site of Go O Chua (1000-500 BC), which is at present situated within the border area of Long An province and about 140 kilometers from the sea. Go O Chua, and about a dozen other Bronze Age salt boiling sites in the eastern region of the so-called ‘duck’s bill’, the narrow corner of southeast Cambodia, may not have been far from a yet undiscovered narrow inlet in the plains of the Vam Co Tay and Vam Co Dong River67. Go O Chua also has ten fragments of ceramic molds (ill. 58)68. The problem concerning the southern bronze workshops is that around 400 BC bronze casting seems to break down in the southern Vietnamese region. There are several reasons for this. Firstly,

Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear
the use of bronze for tools or weapons lost its meaning to up-andcoming iron, playing only a secondary role as a jewelry metal. The metal workers adjusted themselves to completely new demands. A second reason that supports this reorganization is that from the 4th century BC the Dong Nai River area came under the control and cultural influence of the Sa Huynh culture, which originated in central Vietnam69. The Sa Huynh people were apparently masters of iron products, whereas bronze objects like some weapons were rare and imported. Even bronze jewelry is rarer in the Sa Huynh culture than at Prohear. The third reason for the breakup of all the traditionrich casting workshops in the Dong Nai and adjacent areas could be that the connections to the overseas raw material trade network was gradually breaking as their distance to the sea increased. During the last millennium BC the sea level fell and the sea coast regressed to its present border. The ships with all their cargo passed by the former casting workshops more and more. Certainly this natural process also caused the end of the salt boiling centers near the Vam Co Tay River at about 500 BC. What is certain is that the inhabitants of Go O Chua and the surrounding area changed from bronze casting to iron smithing. However we are still unclear as to where the settlements in the Cambodian interior, like Prohear, now got their salt. Large areas farther to the south in the Mekong Delta were unsuited for colonization and agriculture until the beginning of the first millennium AD. There it needed many centuries to cultivate salty soils and dense woodland of mangroves. This is clearly demonstrated by mapping all sites of the pre-Christian era, revealing a concentration of almost all discoveries along a strip of land south of the present-day Cambodian border, with the exception of only a few interesting solitary settlements70. In this context, when faced with the impressive Khmer bronze art of the Angkor period we must ask where all these beautiful things were actually produced71. Emma C. Bunker has brought up this matter under discussion: “The fact that few Khmer foundry remains have been discovered at Angkor…suggests that the creation of major metal images took place in temporary foundries set up in temple precincts that were afterwards removed, leaving little material evidence of their existence”72. This is different from Vietnam, where we


69 This is suggested by sites like Hang Gon, Phu Hoa, Dau Giay, Suoi Chon, all together Dong Nai province, or Giong Ca Vo und Giong Phet, both Ba Ria – Vung Tau province. 70 Some of these isolated ‘landmarks’ of ancient southern colonization in the Mekong Delta, due to special geomorphological conditions, are Giong Noi in Ben Tre province, My Nghia in Tien Giang province and Rach Nui in Long An province – probably all from the pre-Iron Age! 71 E.C. Bunker / D. Latchford 2004, 16-17. 72 E.C. Bunker 2006, 1.


Chapter 5: Settlement and handicrafts at Prohear
can trace back the tradition of whole foundry-villages for generations and across centuries. In most areas of Cambodia, the bronze casting handicraft seems to have remained a ‘guest’s profession’ of itinerant craftsmen up to the present day.


Chapter 6: What the burial offerings tell us
This chapter will provide a closer look at the offerings in the burials. Most graves contain a set of things in different combinations including ceramic vessels, animal food remains (primarily only pig is preserved), metal jewelry, glass or stone beads, as well as weapons or tools of iron, and more rarely bronze. In addition, some burials are equipped with an imported bronze rarity like a drum, bowl or bell. Ceramic ware, including many different vessel types, is at the top of the list of belongings for the dead on the way to the afterlife. All together, at least 260 pots were discovered in 52 burials. We cannot quote their actual number yet because the restoration of the often completely shattered vessels is still ongoing (ill. 60). We have an average of as many as five pottery vessels per grave, with the most common type consisting of a small pot with an ellipsoid cord-marked body and a short conical neck (about 10-15 cm high, 15-20 cm diam.). This type of vessel is distributed widely across cultures and over several periods in almost all regions of Southeast Asia; it is the typical daily ceramic ware. In Go O Chua, where organic remains were better preserved in the soil than in Prohear, preserved food remains were found several times in this vessel type (ill. 45:5 and 10). The second most common items were small shallow bowls or dishes with a low foot ring. They look to be a standardized size of about 5-6 cm high, 14-15 cm diameter, reminiscent of modern-day rice bowls in Southeast Asia. They might have been laid in the grave exactly for this purpose. Most likely, they were not filled with food, because they were sometimes discovered turned upside down with their rim on the ground, like a protective cover on precious offerings (ill. 46:1-2). Aside from the small bottles with a globular body and narrow neck (about 7 cm high, 10 cm diam.) already discussed in chapter 3, (ill. 45:2, 60 front-row, left), there were also many footed bowls which were part of the standard burial equipment. From this we have a very common miniature goblet-size variant (height <10 cm, rim diam. <15 cm; ill. 46:4) that resembles modern dessert bowls, and


Chapter 6: What the burial offerings tell us

60 Vessels from different burials in Prohear (Photo: A. Reinecke)

with some imagination we can think they were used for serving delicious sweets. Actually, in burial 12 such a goblet covered the left side of the skull with some precious offerings (ill. 46:3-5). Rarer still is a larger footed bowl (height >15 cm, rim diam. >20 cm; ill. 60, in the center, left and right from the orangeware pot), that looks like a present-day footed fruit bowl. The other vessel types are large storage jars or funeral bowls, including high pots with funnel-shaped rim (ill. 45:8), large cylindrical basins (ill. 60, last row, second right) or high-pedestalled bowls (ill. 45:6). None of these vessels have a handle, and in comparison to other cemeteries it is remarkable that at Prohear vases or vessels with a multiple segmented silhouette are absent. Apart from cord impressions the ceramics as a whole are poorly decorated (ill. 60). The previously mentioned orangeware vessel from burial 4 has a very specific feature: after firing this globular pot a hole was scratched through its base (ill. 61). Evidently, the pot was made unusable before placing it in the grave. Such a hole is often documented with cremation urns in Europe, and called a ‘ghost-hole’, believing it was made to allow the soul to escape. Therefore, could this vessel in grave 4 and

Chapter 6: What the burial offerings tell us
another broken orangeware pot in grave 44, have a purpose other than the common funeral vessels? That we should attach a special importance to this pierced vessel is confirmed by a similar situation in burial 54 of Go O Chua. Amongst the offerings in that inhumation was a large shattered globular jar with a scratched out hole in the wall of the body. Concerning the metal offerings in Prohear, it is important to point out that bronze is a typical ‘jewelry metal’ (mostly bracelets, seldom earrings) or ‘import metal’ (bowl, drums, bell), but is not a competitor for iron as raw material for implements or weapons like in the Dong Son culture in northern Vietnam. Additionally, there is hardly another culture in Southeast Asia where the people want to focus all eyes on their arms or hands with special bracelets and finger rings like at Prohear, Phum Snay or Village 10.8. As with lightly clad people in tropical cultures, jewelry was the most expressive element of all body trappings. Different groups used jewelry as symbols and ‘body language’ to mark and separate themselves from neighboring cultures. This is clearly demonstrated when we compare the Iron Age people from Prohear with the contemporary Sa Huynh people in central Vietnam, who focused on their ears by wearing great conspicuous earrings made from stone or glass, but very seldom wore bracelets or finger rings. In some burials at Prohear we found dozens of glass beads stuck around the surface of iron bracelets, which clearly shows that beads were worn jointly with bracelets (ill. 62)73. We should also note the separate use and opposing meaning of bronze as a type of quasi-gold on one side of the body and iron as a type of quasi-silver on the other side. When we refer here to gold and silver we mean the coloring and not the metal composition. Based on the first 30 metal analyses we know that only some of the ‘gold objects’ from Prohear actually contained more than 50 percent gold, thus they were more like silver or silver-containing electrum (see Chapter 8.4). Let’s start with the ‘fine old lady’ in burial 4 who wore on her right forearm a bronze ‘buffalo bracelet’ (ill. 51 and 74) and inside a ‘hidden’ gold bracelet (ill. 64:5), and on her left hand a finger ring made from silver wire (ill. 64:4). If we follow this example: left silver/iron, right gold/bronze, then seven burials match this polarity74. Eight burials show a contrary polarity75. The dead in three


61 At the bottom of the orange-red colored pot (diam. 17 cm) from burial 4, a ‘ghosthole’ was scraped (Photo: A. Reinecke) 73 Burials 14, 23, 24, 33, 48. 74 Burial 10 (gold finger ring right, more silver-containing left), 12 (gold finger ring right), 18 (gold finger ring right), 23 (iron bracelet left), 31 (bronze bracelet right), 45 (iron bracelet left). 75 Burial 30 (bronze bracelet left), 33 (gold finger ring left), 36 (bronze bracelet left), 38 (bronze bracelet left, iron bracelet right), 39 (iron bracelet right), 40 (bronze bracelet left, silver bracelet right), 47 (iron bracelet right), 50 (iron bracelet right).


Chapter 6: What the burial offerings tell us

62 Blue glass beads were often adhered to iron bracelets. This means they were worn as beaded bracelets together with iron bangles: The photo on the left shows the objects during excavation in burial 24, in the righthand bottom corner is a carnelian bead in situ. The photo on the right shows the iron bangle after cleaning, diam. 5.7 cm (Photos: A. Reinecke)

graves76 wore bronze bracelets on both arms, and in eight burials the dead had iron bracelets on both arms77. At first glance, this pattern is disorderly and not easy to follow as these differences are not correlated by gender or age. Is the choice of the ‘gold-silver body side’ only the result of individual preferences? Mixing of gold/bronze and silver/iron on the same arm side has not yet been found. We will have to continue to test this rule against the arm-focused jewelry of the Pre-Funan culture by examining comparable burials from different cemeteries across the region in order to be able to recognize the groups (origin, clan, occupation, status etc.) behind this ‘irregularity’. Almost all of the iron tools are ‘everyday-tools’ which did not belong to either a hunter or a craftsman. Only in burial 40 do we find a short-sword, which points to having a clear weapon function. Most other iron offerings are socketed axes, knives or daggers. We expect further surprises from the restoration of the iron objects because in many cases the approximately centimeter thick coating of rust does not allow the exact identification of the object. Sometimes a shapeless iron lump turns into two different iron tools after restoration. In the following we present some ‘highlights’ amongst the offerings.

76 Burials 9, 11, 15. 77 Burials 20, 22, 24, 33, 34, 35, 44, 46.


Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings
1 What ‘rich’ means
The richest equipped burial is number 4, the inhumation of a woman. It could hardly be a man, because the 13 cm long ‘buffalo bracelet’ could only be worn on the forearm of a delicate women (ill. 51). The anthropological investigation confirmed our estimation, here rested a well-to-do old lady in all her glory. Adornments aside, the woman suffered from extreme dental abrasion and every intake of food must have caused her a wrenching toothache (see Chapter 8.2). The ‘First Lady’ from our excavations at Prohear is a contemporary of the late Western Han (202 BC-AD 9) and early Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 AD) and the famous Trung sisters (c. 12-43 AD), who as women leaders of the Nanyue in northern Vietnam successfully repelled Chinese invasions before they died78. Based on information from the villagers, about five percent of all graves at Prohear were as richly equipped. Her head was placed directly in a bronze drum of the Heger I type (ill. 63). This drum is discussed in more detail in chapter 7.2 (ill. 65). The inventory of the grave equipment
63 Position of a skull and some offerings inside the bronze drum of burial 4 after cleaning in the restoration lab at the Memot Centre (Photo: M. Heinzel)

78 K.W. Taylor 1983, 37-41.


Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings

64 Gold-silver offerings in burial 4 (Photo: A. Reinecke)

is comprised of about 50 items including over a dozen ceramic vessels of different types with the aforementioned orangeware vessel with a ‘ghost-hole’ in its base (ill. 61). Indeed that special pot has a local design, like the globular pots with conical neck and low footring, but with a reddish orange color given by its oxidized firing, fine paste, and thin wall making it an unusual offering. Villagers told us, that this orangeware appeared regularly in combination with a bronze drum. The previously mentioned ‘buffalo bracelet’ is a surprise, because until now this strange object has been a rare find and has been documented in an archaeological context for the first time at Prohear (see Chapter 7.4; ill. 51 and 74). In addition to the specimen from burial 4, we received several bracelets of the same type, but of different sizes from the villagers. Therefore we know that this bracelet was also made from iron and worn by children too. Amongst the remaining offerings of burial 4 were spindle whorls, iron tools, another bronze bracelet as well as beads and jewelry from glass, agate, and carnelian. The list of the gold-silver objects from this burial contained 13 items, including a gold wire bracelet which was found inside the big ‘buffalo bracelet’, earrings or hair ornaments and finger rings (ill. 64).

Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings


2 Bronze drums
Besides the gold and silver jewelry, the bronze drums give Prohear a unique reputation among the contemporaneous cemeteries in mainland Southeast Asia. The great number of looted but reported drums at Prohear found far away from their region of origin in southern China and northern Vietnam is unbelievable. After what we have heard from the villagers in Prohear, we can speculate that every 20th grave contained a bronze drum. We already mentioned that Kong Sung alone has dug out and sold seven drums (see Chapter 2). Some other inhabitants also reported that they had discovered a similar number of bronze drums. This information agrees with our own observations, because of 52 excavated graves only inhumation 4 still contained a complete drum and in graves 2 and 10 we found parts of drums that had presumably already been dug out. At a minimum, we may estimate several dozen bronze drums for this burial site, which were lost for scientific evaluation. We only have pictures of two of the drums. Villagers dug out one of these drums on the 20th of May, 2007 in the presence of some Cambodian archaeology students (ill. 17 and 18). The drum from burial 4 is the only one which could be saved (ill. 65). Unfortunately, it has been deformed by soil pressure and the foot section is partly fragmented. Nevertheless, we can determine the height of approx. 30.5 cm and the largest diam. of 45.0 cm. Originally, four frog figures were placed around the border of the tympanum of the drum from which only traces remain. The drum belongs to type I according to Franz Heger’s 1902 typology79. This is the same type to which most samples discovered in archaeological contexts from the 3rd century BC to 1st century AD belong. Following the Vietnamese typology, it is a typical representative for group C280, and according to the 1980 accepted typology in China it fits with the Lengshuichong type81. The main elements of tympanum decorations (star with ten rays in the center, stylized feathered men, and six flying birds) signal that the drum from burial 4 is more similar to the somewhat larger drum of Phu Luu in Quang Binh province in central Vietnam82 or to the 38-cm-high drum of Truong Giang in Thanh Hoa province83 than to
79 In his pioneering work published in 1902, the Austrian ethnographer Franz Heger (1853-1931) analyzed 153 whole drums, divided them in four different stylistic types I-IV and dated back the early specimens of his group I to more than 2000 years ago. Since then, the earliest bronze drums until the end of the Han period in north Vietnam and south China are called Heger I. The later types II-IV reach far into the historical periods. The fundamental importance of Heger’s publication becomes clear by the fact that a few years ago it was reprinted in the Chinese language. 80 Nguyễn Văn Huyên / Hoàng Vinh / Phạm Minh Huyền / Trịnh Sinh 1989, 26-27; Phạm Huy Thông / Phạm Minh Huyền / Nguyễn Văn Hảo / Lại Văn Tới (eds.) 1990, 52-131. 81 Wenshan 2004, 37, 83-89. 82 Phạm Huy Thông / Phạm Minh Huyền / Nguyễn Văn Hảo / Lại Văn Tới (eds.) 1990, 176-177.


Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings

65 The bronze drum discovered in burial 4; height 30.5 cm, diam. 45.0 cm (Drawing: A. Reinecke)

Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings
the four drums from the nearby area of Phu Chanh in Binh Duong province84. The second drum from Prohear, identified by a photo thanks to the archaeological students, belongs to the same group C2 (ill. 66). The main decorative elements on the tympanum of this drum are composed differently: the 10-ray star in the center is surrounded by zones of a meander, a band with double circles, a zone with radial lines, and then not the stylized feathered men, but a meandering band of three parallel twisted lines. It is possible but not clear to see on the photo that the second main zone has flying birds. We cannot recognize traces of broken and lost frog figures on the rim of the tympanum – however, there may have been some. A similar tympanum can be seen on two nearby drums from Phu Chanh85 in Binh Duong province or on the drum from Vinh Phuc in Binh Dinh province86. However, this type is found in northern Vietnam, too (e.g. Bac Ly, Bac Giang province, or Dong Hoa I, Thanh Hoa province)87. Another Heger-I-type bronze drum from Prek Puoy in Kampong Cham province discovered in 2006, provides only a patinated fragment that is under restoration (ill. 67). Primarily, bronze drums are instruments and when beating the tympanum they make an impressive sound resembling thunder. One could hear the beating drum over long distances, and could communicate with neighbors or the ancestors in the other world. One could ask gods for rain or strike fear into the enemy troops before a battle. Some minority groups used similar drums in the recent past to announce the death or funeral ceremony of a high-ranking person. Bronze drums were more than just percussion instruments, however. Historical Chinese and Vietnamese records suggest, that after their casting, they were submitted to a consecration by the whole community and then became the property of the chieftain88, becoming de facto the center of the whole group89. Additionally, the records inform us that bronze drums were an ‘acoustic weapon’ in battle until the 17th century90. Based on archaeological research we know that bronze drums also had a different secondary function as magical or treasure containers. After a ‘personal history’ with one or more generations, they would be buried together with their high-ranked owner as an offering on their last way to the other world, as with


83 Phạm Văn Đấu / Đỗ Như Chung 2004, 106-108, 187. 84 Bui Chi Hoang 2008. 85 M. Yamagata / Pham Duc Manh / Bui Chi Hoang 2001, 103. 86 Hồ Thùy Trang / Nguyễn Thúy Hồng 2004, 141-142, 485. 87 Phạm Huy Thông / Phạm Minh Huyền / Nguyễn Văn Hảo / Lại Văn Tới (eds.) 1990, 182-183, 188-189. 88 “đô lão” see Nguyễn Duy Hinh 1974, 28. 89 Lê Tắc 1335/2002, 73; W. Eberhard 1979, 225-226. 90 Ibidem; Đại Việt sử lược 1377-1388, 44; Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư 1697/2004, vol. II, 407; similiar information in Chinese records, see C. Higham 2006, 20.


Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings

66 A bronze drum from a looted burial in Prohear (Photo: Hong Ranet)

the graves of Prohear. Despite their many functions, during the preChristian era they were never ‘normal trade ware’, and so their distribution does not mark ‘trade routes’, ‘trade centers’ or ‘trade networks’ no matter how often it is claimed. Instead they were markers of traffic ways, networks, and burial sites of the Yue elite (see Chapter 12). Bronze drums originated in a world where most things were impermanent. Most of the everyday objects were made of wood or bamboo. Therefore, drums were not an everyday occurrence. They appeared like a marvel, originating in flames, created for eternity, and handed down from generation to generation with all their indestructible magical information. They were among the greatest masterpieces that bronze casters had ever created in Southeast Asia. The drums have a large size (on average about 50 cm in high) but are relatively low in weight due to their millimeter thin walls. Furthermore their rich meaningful decorations, unique to every piece, are

Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings


highly challenging for craftsmen in both the past and the present. In April 2006, metal-workers at Tra Dong in Thanh Hoa province tried to cast one of the biggest bronze drums of all time, with a diameter of 120 cm and a height of 95.7 cm. Unfortunately, at 260 kg the result was enormously overweight. Apparently, every drum is unique, because no duplicates have ever been found. Fragments of molds for casting drums are seldom discovered, so in northern Vietnam two small pieces from Lien Lau in the area of the Lung Khe citadel in Bac Ninh province, may be the only fragments of the tympanum-mold piece91. This evidence suggests that molds for drums had to be destroyed during their production process and could not be reused a second time. A wall-fragment of the drum from burial 4 was analyzed with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDRFA) by Roland Schwab (Mannheim)92. The result shows that the drum was made from a cop-

67 A fragment (30 cm wide) of the tympanum of a bronze drum from Prek Pouy in Kampong Cham province that was given to the Memot Centre in 2006 (Photo: RGZM Mainz, Sabine Steidl)

91 M. Nishimura 1998 and 2005. 92 For the method see J. Lutz / E. Pernicka 1996.


Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings
per-tin alloy (74:11 percent) with high lead ratio (15 percent). In a prior study of a relatively small number of samples of Heger I drums, an increasing lead ratio was observed with younger drum variants. This was explained by the growing experience of the drum makers to increase the flow of the bronze during the casting process93. More recently published metal analyses of the drums from southern China to Indonesia show that about one third of all bronze drums show a ratio of more than 15 percent lead94.

93 D. Hollmann / D. R. Spennemann 1985; more examples confirming this trend for the Chinese drums see Peng Zicheng / Li Xiaocen / Zhang Binglun / Li Zhichao / Li Kunsheng / Wan Fubin 1991, 358. 94 For a large series of analyses see Phạm Đức Mạnh 2005. After that, more than 15 percent lead is recorded in: 9 from 39 drums in Yunnan (pp. 153-156), 37 from 87 drums in Guangxi (pp. 157-162), 16 from 37 drums in north Vietnam (pp. 188-190) and in 8 from 14 drums from the Indonesian islands (p. 178). 95 Zhou Daguan 1297/2007, 55. 96 For the early period of such ornaments see the gold “hair-rings” (German: “Lockenringe”) from Troja in M. Treister 1996, 203-206; or small spiral rings of the 3rd millennium BC from Georgia (A. Miron / W. Orthmann 1995, 75).

3 “Ordinary women … wear gold bracelets”
As a whole we discovered 79 gold or silver objects in 52 burials from Prohear. Furthermore, two small ring fragments were found in Units C and D without a clear relation to any burial. More than 15 gold or silver items came from looted burials, which are only known from photos. Thus the total number of all documented gold or silver ornaments is 96 pieces. Analyzed samples show that more than a half of all precious metal objects contained more silver than gold (see Chapter 8.4). Zhou Daguan mentioned in his “A Record of Cambodia – The Land and its People” in 1297, that “ordinary women…wear gold bracelets on their arms and gold rings on their fingers”95, but we never expected that 1300 years earlier burials could be equipped with such rich gold and silver jewelry. One third of all of the precious metal items are small spirals of at least one and a half coils (31+5 specimens; ill. 68:1). The longest spirals have up to ten coils and can be more than 4 cm long. Their diameter is up to 1 cm with a wire thickness of 1-2 mm. Their position in the burials is at the skull, indicating they could be ornaments for ears or hair96. Found almost as often were simple wire slit rings, with a diameter of about 1 cm whose ends do not or only partially overlap by a few millimeters (21 specimens; ill. 68:2). Similar in size and shape are small rings, but with a thickened central section (8 specimens, outside diam. 1.4-1.7 cm; ill. 68:3). Both types are most likely earrings. All these rings and spirals are widely distributed ornaments in many parts of the world and are relatively simple to make by ham-

Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings


68 Gold jewelry from different burials in Prohear: 1 – burial 25, 2 – burial 2, 3 – burial 4, 4 – burial 14, 5-6 – burial 3, 7 – burial 46, 8 – burial 33 (with blue glass bead in situ), 9 – burial 18, 10 – burial 50, 11 – looted burial (sold), 12 – burial 10, 13 – looted burial (sold), 14 – burial 10 (Photos: A. Reinecke; 11, 13: Seng Sonetra)

mering and twisting gold or silver wire. In contrast, some objects testify to more specialized goldsmithing skill: two split earrings from burial 3 were made from silver and gold and are similar in shape and size. They are 13-tiered bicone shaped ornaments composed of


Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings
ring-shape bent wires soldered together and decreasing in diameter on both sides of a medium axis. 35 granulated globules with a diameter of 1 mm were placed around the central wire (ill. 68:5-6). At first glance both these earrings look identical, but they differ in some details. The wires of the gold earring seem to be melted into each other more than the silver wires. The ribbed surface is 0.3 cm larger than the silver earrings. A smaller split ring from burial 14 seems to be composed from five conical segments (ill. 68:4). The central axis has a more ribbed surface than the other segments. Most likely this split ring is also an earring. The heaviest gold object is a ribbed earring weighing 16 grams (diam. 2 cm) that was discovered on the left cranial side in burial 46 (ill. 68:7). Most other gold-silver ornaments weigh only a few grams. In contrast a small spiral from the same burial weighs only 1.14 grams on the micro scale. A gold foil tube, also from burial 46, weighs no more than 3.71 grams (ill. 70). Villagers in Prohear told us that they found and sold at least two or three earrings of the same shape and size. This earring type was made from a round bar that was about 0.6 cm thick. Before the bar was bent, the goldsmith made 30 ribs, perhaps using a special file. The widest or largest ornaments in gold or silver from Prohear are a bracelet from burial 4 (diam. 5 cm, weight 7.6 grams) and a silver bracelet (6 cm, 25 grams) from burial 40. The gold annular bracelet was found inside the bronze ‘buffalo bracelet’ (ill. 64:5) and was made of hammered round wire. The massive silver bracelet had a round cross-section with expanded trumpet-shaped ends (ill. 52), and adorned the right forearm of a man who was also buried with the only short-sword97. Another silver spiral ring of 3.7 grams was made from a hammered round wire and badly bent into a spiral of one and a half coils. It was found near the left hand of the ‘First Lady’ in burial 4 and the 1.8 cm inside diameter tells us that perhaps it was a finger ring. This ring looks more like a botched work than a ‘masterpiece’ for that rich woman and arouses suspicion that this was a quickly made substitution for a real finger ring (ill. 64:4). Some other silver jewelry was found in burial 12: a small goblet lay with the rim close to the left side of the skull and covered three head ornaments including a great spiral and a silver ring (ill. 46:3-5).

97 Bracelets of this type in silver or gold, are very common and widespread, as examples see: for Ukraine S. Salvi 1987, 89, 121; for Afghanistan (Tillya Tepe) see F. Hiebert / P. Cambon (eds.) 2008, 253, 283, 290; for Pakistan (Taxila) see J. Marshall 1975, 633635, Plate 195.

Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings


69 Pair of gold foil tubes (length 2.8 and 3.0 cm) found in burial 33 (Photos: A. Reinecke)

All together, ten finger rings with different obverse shapes were found in six burials98 or photographed as looted objects before they were sold by the villagers. Seven finger rings are more massive than the rest, and have no trace for a closing seam99. One of these finger rings is decorated with an animal of the panthera species, most likely a tiger facing to the left (ill. 68:11). Another finger ring shows a horse looking to the left (ill. 68:13). The image of a horseman riding to the right on the finger ring from burial 18 might be one of the earliest examples found in the southern part of Southeast Asia (ill. 68:9)100. On all three finger rings the animal decorations were most likely made by engraving and their lines show the jumpy movements of the fine-pointed burin101. The remaining three finger rings102 are made from a bar-shaped work piece that was more or less intensely wrought to form the undecorated obverse of a very different size, between 0.8 cm and

98 Burials 4, 2x10, 12, 18, 33, 50. 99 From burials 2x10, 18, 33, 50, and 2 pieces from looters. 100 Finger rings or seals engraved with horses or with a horseman is a common motif in East Europe and West Asia during the last centuries BC and may be modeled on coins of that period. See e.g. A. Miron / W. Orthmann 1995, 17; J. Marshall 1975, 638639, 650, Plate 198, 207. 101 To the horse image see also chapter 12. 102 Burial 4, 12 and a single find.


Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings

70 Gold foil tube (length 2.5 cm) found in burial 46 (Photo: A. Reinecke)

71 Gold objects from different looted burials. All were sold (Photo: Hong Ranet)

2.1 cm. Next both ends were bent, and then the overlapping ends on the reverse were beaten together. All three finger rings having a silver-rich color are less elaborate than the finger rings without seamtrace (ill. 64:7). Two gold foil tubes were found in burial 33 and a third one in burial 46. They are 2.5 to 3.0 cm long and if one rolled them out they would be of rectangular shape of 2.5 to 3.5 cm width (ill. 69). The diameter of all three tubes is about 1 cm, and the edges of both tubes from burial 33 overlap about 0.5 cm. The tube from burial 46 does not have overlapped edges and differs from the other tubes by lines of repoussé dots along the upper and lower edge (ill. 70). The upper edge of all tubes is turned down to the reverse. Both pieces from grave 33 show one or two holes in the upper corners, which are absent in the tube from grave 46. We have only a picture of a fourth tube from a looted burial that includes a single bicone gold bead and gold spirals (ill. 71). All three gold tubes lay near the skull. The two pieces from grave 33 were directly under the upside down bronze bowl, which covered the face of the dead person. Their use is not quite clear yet, but we have four suggestions. First, they could have been part of a chain in this rolled up condition. Second, it is possible that the tubes were originally ‘rolled out’ and used as a pendant or as plaques fixed on a base. A third interpretation could be that these were fittings for thin handles of wooden tools. And last but not least, they could have been used as decorative caps on long precious stone ornaments, such as the tube-shaped agate beads with cartouche-shaped gold caps on

Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings
both ends, from a private collection103. The gold tubes on this bead are similar in size and orientation to the tube from burial 46 (ill. 72). It is also interesting to note which gold objects were discovered in Prohear in surprisingly small quantities. In all 52 graves there was not a single ‘normal’ gold bead. At least, we have photos of gold offerings from looted graves and know that sporadically double-conical gold beads (ill. 71) have been found. These are similar to beads from Lai Nghi104 or Go Mun105 in central Vietnam. However, in Prohear gold beads were nothing that stirred anyone’s blood. Some broken pieces of gold-silver objects were also offered, e.g. an earring fragment in grave 2. Such fragments are worthless as jewelry for the dead but maybe have a meaning as currency on their way in the next world. Zhou Daguan discusses trade and currency in his daily life, which might reflect a long tradition of commercial transactions. He writes that “small market transactions are paid for with rice or other grain and Chinese goods… Large transactions are done with gold and silver”106. By comparing Prohear with other cemeteries of the early Iron Age in Southeast Asia, we identify the unusual character of all these gold and silver offerings, but we will come back to this issue in chapter 11.


72 Long tubular agate bead with gold leaf capsules at both ends; a burial offering from a looted Iron Age burial in Cambodia or Vietnam in a private collection in Bangkok and now for sale on ebay (length 9.6 cm; photo: unknown dealer)

4 Water buffalo bracelet
The aforementioned ‘buffalo bracelet’ from burial 4 is an amazing object and a rare find in Southeast Asia (ill. 73 and 74). The villagers provided several looted bracelets of the same type made from bronze and iron in different sizes, although the iron samples have not preserved the four long ‘horn-ends’ (ill. 56). One only has to look at the profile of this ring to recognize the symmetrical long curved horns as an impression of the water buffalo (ill. 51). It does not surprise us that in an agriculturally based society such an important animal is represented as a symbol or expression of worship. It is remarkable that at Prohear and at Go O Chua only very few water buffalo bones remain. At other cemeteries in northwestern Cambodia or in northeastern Thailand there is more clear evidence

103 E.C. Bunker / D. A.J. Latchford 2008, 10. 104 A. Reinecke 2009, 27, Fig. 5a. 105 A. Reinecke / Lê Duy Sơn 2000, 11, Fig. 5. 106 Zhou Daguan 1297/2007, 70.


Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings

73 In situ bronze bracelet in burial 4 (Photo: Seng Sonetra)

107 A. von der Driesch / D.J.W. O’Reilly / V. Voeun 2006, table 1 and 3. 108 C.F.W. Higham 2004, 159-160. 109 M. McCaw 2007. 110 S.V. Lapteff 2008, 174, fig. 111. Pers. comm. Sergey V. Lapteff (Shigaraki), on 16th September 2009; M. Tranet 2008, 133, fig. 72. 111 K.M. Domett / D. J.W. O’Reilly 2009, 73. 112 A.J. Labbé 1985, 6.

of water buffalo bones (e.g. Phum Snay107; Ban Lum Khao108; Noen U-Loke109). The same bronze ‘buffalo bracelets’ were also found 340 km northwest of Prohear at the burial site of Phum Snay. Unfortunately, those objects did not come from an archaeological excavation, but from looted graves in private collections110. Moreover, during their excavations in 2001 an 2003, Dougald J.W. O’Reilly and Pheng Sytha documented several bronze finger rings with a buffalo horn symbol from looted inhumations (ill. 75). They found one such item in burial 7 in 2003111. Similar finger rings from northeastern Thailand have also been published112. Also found in the same context at Phum Snay, were the absolutely amazing ceramic epaulettes, which included an attached pair of iron or bronze buffalo horns (ill. 76)113. Even bronze helmets with horns have been found in the midst of the looted burial equipment114. The symbolic buffalo jewelry arose during an early period and was widespread across southern China and Southeast Asia (ill. 77). It is the reflection of a very distinctive water buffalo cult present in the rich figural art of the Dian culture as well as by the gold objects from

Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings


74 Bronze bracelet from burial 4, length 13.2 cm (Photo: A. Reinecke)

75 Bronze ‘buffalo finger rings’ from looted burials at Phum Snay (Photo: Dougald J.W. O’Reilly)

113 D.J.W. O’Reilly / T. Chanthourn / K. Domett 2004, 225, fig. 10; S. Lapteff 2009, 13; K.M. Domett / D.J.W. O’Reilly 2009, 73. 114 D.J.W. O’Reilly / K. Domett / P. Sytha 2006, 217.


Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings

76 Ceramic epaulette with affixed iron ‘buffalo horns’ from burial 13-2003 at Phum Snay (Photo: Bonnie Baskin)

77 Many different bronze items from early Iron Age sites in Southeast Asia have ‘buffalo symbols’, especially rattles or bells like this object (diam. 16 cm) from a looted burial now for sale on ebay (Photo: unknown dealer)

southern Vietnam115. Its traces reach into the modern period. In the 18th century in Tonkin, the present-day northern Vietnam, buffaloes were more an offering than a meal, a clear sign of great worship for a work-animal in a country where almost all other living beings are eaten116. And the long tradition of buffalo fighting is still practiced on the 9th day of the 8th lunar month in Do Son community in Hai Phong province.

115 L. Malleret 1962, pl. XXVII-XXVIII; for more examples see S. Lapteff 2008, who has delved into the topic of the ‘symbolic water buffalo’ in China and Southeast Asia. 116 A. Reinecke / Nguyễn Thị Thanh Luyến 2007, 67, 136, 142.

5 The face under the bronze bowl
During the excavation of burial 33 it seemed that no skeletal remains were preserved. The length of the grave was used to estimate the body placement with the help of the surrounding pottery sherds and offerings including iron bracelets near both wrists. At the southern end of the inhumation, where the head would have laid, a bronze bowl was found upside down with the mouth on the ground. While uncovering the bowl, two unusual gold foil tubes and beads of precious stones were found (see Chapter 7.3). We did not excavate the

Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings


78 The skull, probably from a woman, in burial 33 was covered by a bronze bowl of Han style, diam. 16.5 cm. On her face beads from blue glass, garnet and carnelian (Photos and drawing: A. Reinecke)

whole bronze bowl immediately in Prohear because it was very fragile and crushed into many small pieces. Instead, we decided to take it as a block, and we transported a lump of soil with the bowl to the lab in Phnom Penh.


Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings
There, Seng Sonetra began with drawings of all the bronze bowl fragments in situ. Then she worked carefully piece by piece and started to scrape the soil from inside of the bowl. One by one, beads came to light until there was a big surprise: a complete human skull. The bone substance was extremely soft and fragile and during uncovering the skull had to be stabilized. However, after one week this hard work was rewarded with an amazing feature: the face of a young woman with rich jewelry on her head that had been covered by the bronze bowl. The small size of the gold finger ring and the great number of spindle whorls, more than from any other burial at Prohear, suggested this was a woman’s burial. This complex is reminiscent of the ‘First Lady’ in burial 4 whose skull was found in the drum, and another inhumation in burial 47 where the face of a 9year-old boy was covered by a disc-shaped object that may have also been a shallow bronze bowl (ill. 78). Comparable features are not often documented in Southeast Asia. An inhumation similar to burial 33 seems to have been discovered at Phum Snay. During the excavation in 2003 in the rich grave 9, a very similar bronze bowl was found beside the skull of what was most likely an adult woman117. Furthermore two similar graves were found at Thanh Hoa province in northern Vietnam. Between 1935 and 1939, O.R.T. Janse excavated burials of the Dong Son culture and Han period brick tombs. He reports that he discovered in burial No. 19 of Lach Truong “two bronze bowls…, one placed where the head of the dead was supposed to have been…contained part of a skull …”118, and he supposed “had been used as a pillow …”119 – however, we do not know exactly in which position the bronze bowl was found. Another example, which O.R.T. Janse described for burial no. 2 from “Locality 3” in Dong Son, dates to the last centuries BC. He describes “the only skeleton remains we ever found at Đông-sơn, was a part of a human skull placed inside a bronze situla…”. This rich burial also included a bronze drum and many other offerings120. A very good equivalent for the bronze bowl from burial 33 at Prohear, with almost the same shape, size, and line decoration was found in one of the richest burials discovered at the Lai Nghi site in central Vietnam in 2004121. This bowl, found together with five other vessels,

117 A.von der Driesch / D.J.W. O’Reilly / V. Voeun 2006, 108; K.M. Domett / D.J.W. O’Reilly 2009, 59, Fig. 3. 118 O.R.T. Janse 1947, 20, pl. 37:1. 119 O.R.T. Janse 1958, 54, not. 83. 120 O.R.T. Janse 1958, 34, not. 56, and fig. 4, p. 22. 121 Prohear: height 7.0 cm, diam. 16.5 cm – Lai Nghi: height 5.9 cm, diam. 15.9 cm.

Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings
belonged to the greatest bronze complex of the Han period ever found south of the Chinese dominated area122. Another interesting burial from the Sa Huynh culture was uncovered in Tien Lanh about 42 km southwest from Lai Nghi in the same province, Quang Nam. In 2001, Bùi Chí Hoàng excavated seven partly destroyed burials including four jar burials that are typical for the Sa Huynh culture, but he also uncovered some inhumations. Fortunately, burial 2 in sector 2 was almost intact. The skeleton of the dead did not remain, but because of the offerings it is assumed that the head was oriented to the eastsoutheast, and the foot position was marked by pottery vessels. What makes this burial so special is the 55 cm long iron sword and two bronze bowls that were of different size but nested into one another and placed upside down with their mouths presumably on the lower abdomen or between the upper thighs of the dead123. Farther north from Thanh Hoa province, small bronze bowls of almost the same shape, size, and line decoration are standard features in rich burials of the indigenous Han-Chinese elite124. The custom of covering the head of the dead with bronze objects like bowls or discs, as well as burying the head in a drum is seldom attested to Southeast Asia and might be foreign in origin. We will come back to this issue in chapter 11.2 in the context of long distance relations at Prohear.


6 The boy with a bell between his thighs
The 9-year-old boy from burial 47 had a 12 cm beautiful bronze bell between his thighs. Additionally, a disc-shaped bronze object covered the face of the child (diam. 13.2 cm; ill. 117). Because it is very fragmented, it is not yet possible to identify if it is a mirror, shallow bowl, or a disc similar to the bronze object from Village 10.8 (see Chapter 11, ill. 117). The age of the child was determined by Simone Krais on the basis of bio-anthropological characteristics. From the archaeological point of view, the child is most likely a boy, because the position of the bell is reminiscent of men’s burials, where we found half or complete stone pestles between the thighs of the dead (ill. 50).

122 A. Reinecke 2004, 225-226. 123 Diam. 17.5 cm and 11 cm, height 8 cm and 5.5 cm, see Bùi Chí Hoàng 2008. 124 O.R.T. Janse 1958, 54-55, pl. 33; Hà Văn Tấn (ed.) 1994, 109.


Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings

79 Bronze bell (length 11.7 cm) from a child’s burial, number 47 (see also ill. 50; Photo: A. Reinecke)

125 Hà Văn Tấn 1994, 117-119, pl. XXXVI, 513.

The bell has a hexagonal cross section and is decorated at the end with a ring made for suspension. Inside the bell there is no clear sign of a hook to fix a clapper, which would mean it had to be struck from the outside (ill. 79). A bell of the same shape and cross section is not known from other sites in Cambodia or Vietnam. With its medium size, the bell from Prohear seems to be a cross between the great so-called elephant bells without a clapper from the Dong Son culture125 and the small

Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings


80 Fragmented bronze disc-shaped object, maybe a shallow bowl or disc, covered the dead person’s face in burial 47. Around the skull about ten glass and garnet beads are in situ (Photo: Seng Sonetra)


Chapter 7: Some highlights amongst the offerings
bronze bells from Guizhou province, which are only a few centimeters long with a ring on one end and include a clapper126. South of the Dong Son culture bronze bells are few and far between127. Therefore, the 2007 discovery of a bronze bell near the skull of an inhumation at Hoa Diem in Khanh Hoa province is also worth mentioning128. With only a small number of early Iron Age sites in Southeast Asia it seems too early to look for parallels of these objects at sites much farther away. As only a suggestion for the possible function we want to point to a pair of bronze bells of nearly the same size (length about 8 cm) with an octagonal cross section and a clapper. However, the bells are missing the pointed top decoration. They were found with the headgear of a horse from a site in Georgia, dating to about 700 BC.

126 Guizhou Sheng Wenwu kaogu yanjiusuo (ed.) 2008, 278. 127 A. Mirion / W. Orthmann 1995, 328. 128 Bùi Chí Hoàng / M. Yamagato / Nguyễn Kim Dung 2008, 126.


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress
1 Dating of the burials and finds
The dating of burials and their offerings is based primarily on their recognized correlation with contemporaneous sites and artifacts that are already part of a fixed chronological framework for this region. For Prohear these are archaeological objects of gold, bronze or ceramic that we know from burial sites between southern Vietnam and southern China. By cross-dating we know that the burials of Prohear are part of a 2000-year-old network. Items imported from southern China found in Southeast Asia are chronological benchmarks because they are connected with known historical events or persons, whose dating is recorded in early written sources. As we described in chapter 3 we can also distinguish burials from period I from the later period II by noting differences in head orientation, depth, stratigraphy, and artifact combinations. The validity of extending relative or exact date sequences from one well researched and dated site to another newly excavated site, or from a historically recorded area to a prehistoric environment is limited by many factors, including the time of circulation or distribution of artifacts before they were buried in graves. Thus, dating the site on the basis of archaeological methods alone is not precise enough if we need reliable data for the commencement of funeral activities in Prohear during the 5th-2nd centuries BC, or for the more poorly equipped burials. For this reason we collected charcoal or bone samples from 13 burials for radiocarbon dating by Bernd Kromer in the radiocarbon laboratory of the Institute of Environmental Physics at the University of Heidelberg129. The measurement is produced using Accelerator Mass Spectrometry in Zürich and a radiometric method in Heidelberg. The estimation of the age of our samples is based on comparison of the remaining fraction of 14C in a sample to that expected from atmospheric 14C. At present all the samples have not yet been dated, but eight samples from the cemetery130 have produced a ‘core-time-frame’ for the use

129 The charcoal samples are from burials 3, 4, 7, 8, 33, 36, 40, 46, and 47, and the bone samples from burials 15, 16, 19, and 21, which belong to different periods of the site. 130 Another radiocarbon date from burial 9 (Hd-27899: 5195+/-30 BP) will not be discussed here because the charcoal sample is not related to the burial.


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress

81 Current measured radiocarbon dates from Prohear (November 2009)

131 Lab-No. Hd27588: 2122+/-21 BP; calibration of all dates at 2 sigma with INTCAL04 and CALIB5 (P.J. Reimer et al. 2004). 132 Lab-No. Hd27257: 2001+/-17 BP. 133 Lab-No. Hd28520: 2079+/-18 BP.

of the cemetery that falls between 200 BC and AD 100; three dates are older. Within this time span fall most of the Prohear funeral activities dated by radiocarbon dates from the south-southwest oriented inhumations 3, 4, 33, 36 and 46. The charcoal sample from burial 3 was found near the skull on the burial ground near the southwest edge and gave the date 203-55 cal. BC131. This burial was rich in gold and silver and in ceramic vessels; it also included two spindle whorls and about 70 glass beads. We assumed that this inhumation of a woman dates from the middle to the end of the last century BC, belonging to period IIb. The radiocarbon date is slightly older, so perhaps we should consider the possibility of the ‘old wood factor’, which results from using charcoal that did not originate from a freshly cut tree. The charcoal from burial 4 was sampled directly inside the bronze drum and is dated from 44 cal. BC to AD 51132. This complex is the most richly equipped burial of a woman more than 40-yearsold (see Chapter 7.1). The radiocarbon date corresponds well with our expectations based on the archaeological artifacts. In burial 33 we found a charcoal sample in an ideal position inside the bronze bowl. The radiocarbon date of 165-46 cal. BC133

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress
corresponds exactly with our archaeological expectations. We think that a date in the last third of this 2 sigma range, which falls in the second third of the 1st century BC, fits this inhumation of a woman buried with rich offerings (see Chapter 7.5). The radiocarbon date for burial 36 came from a charcoal sample near a bronze bracelet on the left side of the dead underneath a ceramic sherd. Therefore we wrote in our excavation diary: “…could also be earlier than the burial”. The date of 162-1 cal. BC removed all our doubts134. A charcoal sample was taken in burial 46 near the skull between the ceramic sherds in the upper layer over the skeletal remains. The date of cal. AD 25-135135 fits excellently with the archaeological evidence because it is a typical burial of mortuary phase IIb. It is rich in metal offerings, including a gold foil tube like that in burial 33 and the heaviest gold object, the ribbed earring, from all excavated burials. Closest to these dates is the result for burial 21; a western oriented inhumation from mortuary period I, likely of a woman and poorly furnished. A skeleton bone was sampled and had enough collagen for radiocarbon dating. The result of 356-176 cal. BC136 fits optimally with our expectations for period I. Let’s have a further look at dates that fall outside the ‘core-timeframe’. For burial 7, a possible jar burial of a child, a charcoal sample taken inside the jar is dated 513-397 cal. BC137. We cannot exclude such an early time period for the jar burials at Prohear, which must be rechecked with further samples from other jar burials (ill. 81). A unique problem is presented with burial 47 that is dated to 510-394 cal. BC138. That would be 300-400 years earlier than our archaeological expectations. The charcoal sample was taken between the ceramic sherds in a deep layer on the eastern side of the right leg. This inhumation of a child, with rich offerings including non-local bronzes and other objects, seemed to fit well in mortuary phase IIb (see Chapter 7.5). However, the radiocarbon date put it at the beginning of all inhumations in Prohear. We hope to find a solution to this problem in the future by discovering a parallel to the bronze bell in this burial at another site in Southeast Asia. At present we suspect that the charcoal sample belonged not to the burial complex, but came from an earlier context.


134 Lab-No. Hd28523: 2057+/-18 BP. 135 Lab-No. HD28519: 1910+/-24 BP. 136 Lab-No. Hd28531: 2180+/-17 BP. 137 Lab-No. Hd27590: 2381+/-21 BP. 138 Lab-No. Hd.28714: 2372+/-20 BP.


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress
In conclusion, it should be said that the chronological framework for the early Iron Age in Cambodia and southern Vietnam is still under construction. At present, dating of the ceramics, gold, bronze, or iron objects is fraught with uncertainty, which cannot be compensated by blind confidence in the radiocarbon dates. Thus, our benchmark data from the imported bronze vessels, drums, or coins that can be tied together with Chinese events remains important.

2 The secrets of the human bones
In only a few burials were the remains of human skeletons in such good condition that we could make in-the-ground assessments about the buried person on the basis of their dental health or the body’s length. So we garnered the assistance of Simone Krais (Freiburg) to conduct a careful bio-anthropological examination of all human remains. Although at first this seemed an unfruitful and labor-intensive task in view of the extremely fragile bones, she provided us with many exciting results. However, in only a few cases was it possible to produce a ‘death certificate’ with age, gender, teeth status, and health or diseases. Bones and teeth from the upper layers (until 0.9 m) were in such bad condition that it was not possible to wash them. In the water, they would have fallen into tiny indefinable fragments. Thus, several students helped to carefully scrape the soil from the bones, as well as to stabilize them centimeter by centimeter with a fixative (ill. 82). All diagnostically conclusive skeletal remains were photographed and then on the basis of comparative values, checked for the person’s age. The usual and more precise measurement of the skeletal remains was not possible, because the bones were too fragmented. In only a few cases could the sex characteristics of the individual be recorded, because the relevant skeletal parts, pelvis and skull, were deformed or not preserved. Our archaeological data were not available for Simone Krais during her work to guarantee an independent estimation of sex or age (see Chapter 4). It was interesting for us to observe how small bone pieces could be selected out as animal bones (ill. 83). Normally, the distinction

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress


82 Cambodian students of the Faculty of Archaeology and Fine Arts in the lab of the Memot Centre during cleaning and restoration of fragile human bones from Prohear (Photo: Seng Sonetra)

between complete human or animal bones is not a problem based on morphological characteristics. However, with small fragments, specific features of bone structure must be checked. In general, the

83 Brush, scalpel and a special glue, Simone Krais is saving the bone’s information (Photo: Vuthy Voeun)


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress

Speaking dead – what skeletons tell us about people’s lives The analysis of the human remains from the Prohear burial site was a special challenge for me as an anthropologist. The preservation of the bones was one of the worst I have ever seen. The bones were fragmented to a great extent, decomposed into many little pieces, and huge parts of them were already dissolved. So I had to do plenty of reconstruction and restoration work before I could start with the conventional analyses. For example, there was a femur (thighbone) in about forty little pieces; to reconstruct something like that takes lots of patience and time. Human bones store plenty of information about an individual. Most fascinating is information and diagnosis of diseases, which allows insight into individual life stories. One individual (burial 13) femur shows a tumor that was partly encapsulated and partly incorporated with the circumfluent soft tissue. The same individual had a healed fracture of the upper side of the metatarsals. Such a fracture can happen through a heavy object falling from above on the foot. Another individual (burial 15) showed signs of anemia and physical stress and died at an age of 20 to 30 years. The most-probable candidate for the eldest individual within this society (burial 4) showed extreme tooth wear, which almost eradicated one tooth and opened its root canals. This is an extremely painful procedure that made the consumption of food difficult for this person. Despite all the interesting results found in bones, more data was left within the preserved teeth. Teeth are the hardest material in the human body, so they remain in the soil much longer than the softer bones. Also, in the Prohear sanctuary the remains of dentition of many individuals were found and they provided plenty of information about the ancient people of Prohear (ill. 85:1-3). The strong wear of the teeth was remarkable in all individuals. This tells us that the people during that time ate at least partially very hard food or food that included little pieces of sand or dust. The strong wearing of teeth is commonly found in early settled societies. But among the people of Prohear, even little children younger than six years had an extraordinary degree of tooth wear that would normally not even be found in a 90-year-old person and from modern, ‘western’ societies. Another basic piece of information that teeth can give us is the age of a person. The age of a person can be diagnosed very precisely especially during the rotation of teeth, from milk teeth to permanent

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress


teeth. The age at death of the people from Prohear ranged from very young children to one person who died in later maturity. Many remains of very young individuals were found; at least 25 percent of the people died before reaching the age of 13 years. Within the teeth of these young departed individuals dental enamel defects were found, that are considered to be a sign for physical childhood stress. This shows that the conditions of life were quite hard, especially for young individuals. Reasons for that could be for example malnutrition, raging diseases, or less care-behavior from adult individuals. This result may be shocking for modern ‘western’ people, however it used to be quite normal for these ancient societies and sadly is still common in some parts of very poor societies. The age of a person can also be examined through histological analyses. Like every mammal, human permanent teeth create ‘annual rings’, similar to the annual rings of trees. Starting in the year of eruption, teeth normally develop two lines every year, a darker and a brighter one, in the outer areas of the permanent teeth root. To find the age at death the number of dark rings are counted under a microscope and added to the amount of years of average eruption of the tooth. This method, called TCA (Tooth cementum annulation), is currently the most accurate method for the analyses of age at death. The results from the TCA-analysis from the burial site of Prohear are not available yet, but will probably give interesting information about the people at Prohear. Human anatomy is basically uniform, but nobody is exactly the same, every body shows features that are uncommon. Some of these anatomical variants are known as genetically bequeathed within a genetic pool, such as the genetic pool of one population. If one of these variants (called epigenetic variants) is found within the skeletal remains of a population several times, it is a strong signal for genetic kinship between the affected individuals. In the Prohear population four individuals (burials 2,7,19 and 44) showed a very rare genetically variant, a so called ‘foramina molaris’, which is a small pit in the molar’s exterior (ill. 85:3). This is a sign that there is kinship between these individuals. Further studies are planned for investigation. If this feature is found within other populations that lived close to the people at Prohear, we may find evidence of genetic kinship to surrounding populations. By Simone Krais


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress

84 Ready, cleaned, and displayed for anthropological analyses: the skeleton of burial 19 (Photo: S. Krais)

microstructure of animal bones is different because the surface of mammal bones (cortical bone) often appears thicker and heavier than human bone. Of course, also the structure of animal bones is depending on the species, age, and size of the animal. Such bones ‘feel different’ from animal bones. Also the cancellous bone, the internal spicules of the bone, is somewhat finer in a pig than in human bone. Finally, a microscope was used to examine the different microstructures and select out the animal bones. Most information about the age of individuals could be found by investigating the teeth. This is more exact with the individuals who

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress
were still in the process of changing from primary to permanent dentition. With individuals from whom no teeth survived, only a very rough estimation of the age was possible. An almost complete dentition survived from only five individuals. In no cases did we find an intentional ante-mortem loss of anterior dentition (canines or lateral incisors) such as at other Iron Age sites like Go O Chua, Phum Snay139, Prey Khmeng, the Bronze Age site of Koh Ta Meas140, or as has been recorded in prehistoric Thai populations in southern China141.


3 Human teeth as passport
Archaeological data, such as changing customs, cultural features, or the spread of imported objects have long been the primary indicators for the migration of people. But the distribution of ideas, skills, fashions, or special products could have been caused by many different factors, of which ‘immigration’ is only one possibility. Other possibilities include trade, cultural relations, or outside influences. Thus the distribution of archaeological artifacts can have different causes and their interpretation as only a sign of immigration can be wrong. Concerning offerings in burials, the problem has always been that ‘non-local artifacts’ do not necessarily mean that the person was an immigrant. Conversely ‘non-local people’ may have integrated themselves enough not to be recognized by special offerings. Increasingly, archaeological suggestions become facts by using bio-anthropological methods and records. Environment and diet leave their traces in human bones and teeth as in a personal file, and combined with the archaeological artifacts we recognize the amazing details of the fates of individuals. For archaeologists it becomes exciting if the bio-anthropological and archaeological records correspond with one another. For example, a person in a burial could be identified by anthropological analyses as ‘non-local’ and the recheck of our archaeological offerings now shows features that were hardly worth mentioning before. This may sound confusing so we provide a more specific example. Compared with Prohear, the cemetery of Go O Chua has very similar ceramics but has poorly equipped burials. There is no gold,

139 M. Takayuki 2008, 102; K.M. Domett / D.J.W. O’Reilly 2009, 70. 140 C. Pottier / J.-B. Chevance / E. Llopis / C. Souday / M. Frelat / N. Buchet / F. Demeter / K. Vireak / C. Socheat / S. Sang 2006, 3. 141 N. Tayles 1996; K.M. Domett / D.J.W. O’Reilly 2009, 70-72.


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress

85 Teeth normally survive longer in the soil than bones – a lucky situation for anthropologists because teeth are a record of the life and environment of the buried people. Teeth can give indications on the region where a person was born, their diet, or their age at death. This illustration shows: 1 – teeth from an individual in burial 26 with the preserved human dentition of an adult, 2 – teeth from an adult in burial 33 with heavy wear, and 3 – a tooth from burial 2 that shows a very rare genetic variant, called ‘foramina molaris’, which is a small pit in the exterior of the molar (Photos: S. Krais)

142 M. Schweissing 2004; T. Tütken / C. Knipper / K.W. Alt 2008.

few precious stone beads, and no imported bronze. In more than 50 burials excavated at Go O Chua, there was nothing that could be seen as the special property of a ‘non-local person’. The teeth from 34 individuals were preserved and could be sampled using Strontium vs. Oxygen isotopic analyses to detect the ‘non-local individuals’. This archaeometric method relies upon the variation of strontium isotope ratios in rocks of different ages and compositions. Soils are formed from these rocks, and freshwater in contact with these sediments shows the same strontium isotope ratio as the plants growing in the soil. These plants are then eaten as food, which brings the isotopic fingerprint into the human teeth. Oxygen isotope values change in different altitudes. In general, the higher the altitude the lower the isotopic value in the drinking water and in the tooth enamel of an individual using a water source from a higher altitude. Tooth enamel will not grow or change its isotopic composition after the formation of adult permanent teeth. If an individual has a value different from the isotopic composition of the local soil, they must be interpreted as being of non-local origin. For standardization of the local values of strontium and oxygen isotopes, a tooth of an animal is also measured, because animals normally only consume the local food and water142. From Go O Chua, samples of seven men and women show higherthan-local values, thus they were most likely born in another region. A re-evaluation of their offerings and other bio-anthropological

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress
information gave the three men in this group some special characteristics. The first man was the only individual at this site that had an intentional ante-mortem loss of two incisors. He was equipped with seven iron arrowheads, which could indicate he was a hunter. The skeleton of the second man was unique due to the skeletal traces of an accident or a fall. The third man was buried with tiger teeth amulets, which were quite likely offerings for a hunter. All seven ‘non-local persons’, including 3-4 women, were equipped with local ceramics, an indication that they were not really seen as ‘strangers’ but well integrated. Let’s return to Prohear. During the excavation and documentation, we paid close attention to burials that showed ‘non-local features’ in funeral customs or offerings. In Prohear these are very clearly the burials 4, 33 and 47 because of the exceptional bronze offerings (drum, bowl, bell, and disc). In addition, one can speculate as to whether the graves of the mortuary period I (jar burials and graves with head in east- or west-orientation) could be classified as ‘local’, and the earliest graves with south-orientation of mortuary phase IIa classified as ‘non-local’. Because most skeletons are not available or poorly preserved, ‘aDNA’ analyses seems unpromising. In 20 of 52 burials from Prohear we sampled teeth for Strontium vs. Oxygen isotope analysis to detect non-local individuals. At present, the analyses are in progress by Mike Schweissing, Bavarian State Collection for Anthropology and Palaeoanatomy in Munich. We hope for a solution for the riddle of the cemetery of Prohear from his results.


4 Nothing but gold and silver
The provenance and traffic or trade routes of the rich precious metal jewelry from Prohear must be investigated using interregional comparative metal analyses, and by searching related jewelry objects in southern Vietnam and Cambodia. However, based on the first 30 metal analyses of gold and silver objects from Prohear, we can now say that there is electrum (a natural alloy of silver and gold), silver, and gold, as well as intentional alloys of different compositions. In


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress
fact, the most ‘golden’ looking ornaments from Prohear are not pure gold, but electrum or silver with a rather low gold content. By analyzing a great number of gold-silver offerings from different graves at Prohear we want to find out not only the different compositions, but also which objects were made from native or intentional alloys. Moreover, we hope for indications about how many different metal sources left their ‘fingerprints’ on the alloys. It will also be interesting if the analyses show that some inhumations were equipped with gold-silver jewelry from the same source. This could indicate that they were contemporaneous with one another as well as
It depends on the right mixture Of the 30 analyzed small rings or fragments, three are made of gilded silver wire and 27 from simple massive metal wires. They are mostly silver-gold alloys of different compositions with generally low copper content. Based on their composition, the samples can be divided into three groups. 1) 9 samples with 35 to 44 percent silver and copper of about 0.2 percent. 2) 7 samples with 56 to 68 percent silver and the same low copper content. 3) 7 samples with 73 to 83 percent silver and a slightly higher copper content of about 1 percent. Moreover, there is one ring fragment from grave 27 with 76 percent gold, 24 percent silver and about 0.3 percent copper, currently being the object with the richest gold content from the cemetery. Two silver rings (burials 3 and 24) are exceptions due to their higher copper concentrations of 4 and 7 percent. Other components are 86 and 91 percent silver and 6 and 7 percent gold. An earring from burial 4 consists of almost pure silver (99 percent) and therefore groups well with the cores of the three gilded silver rings. The gilding of the rings from burials 3 and 4 is of identical composition, while the third ring from burial 12 is clearly different. Nevertheless, all three rings could come from the same workshop. The same gilding technique was used (ill. 87-88) and they have similar tin content in the gold foil (2-3 percent). This proves that the gilding material was made from an intentional alloy. Because of the low copper content of less than 0.5 percent it could be assumed that the majority of the gold-silver-rings are completely natural alloys that occur as electrum in rivers or mines. However, two aspects contradict this. The first being the wide range of

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress
point towards relationships between the dead. Furthermore it would suggest a very direct route from the gold sources, via a goldsmith, to the Iron Age people of Prohear. Conversely, a collection with different objects of many different alloys in only one grave would indicate an exchange with different ‘business partners’ and a broader network of gold prospectors and goldsmiths. At present, Sandra Schlosser at the Curt-Engelhorn-Centre for Archaeometry in Mannheim is analyzing a series of gold-silver samples from Prohear using LA-ICP-MS (Laser ablation-Inductively coupled-Mass Spectrometry). Aside from the major and minor elecompositions. We would suppose that electrum coming from certain natural sources would show more uniform composition. Second, the behaviour of platinum in the metal indicates that it was alloyed with silver. Platinum, as a trace element in natural gold, comes from tiny platinum nuggets that were panned together with the gold from the river. Thus, platinum is primarily an indicator for placer gold and shows that the gold was not exploited in mines. In Prohear, those objects with the highest gold content also have the highest platinum values, and those with a high silver content have less. Obviously the platinum has been diluted by adding silver (which contains no platinum). Moreover, different platinum-palladium ratios in the samples indicate that gold or electrum came from rivers from at least two different regions. Another indicator for the fluvial origin of gold is the tin content, because a river can also carry the heavy mineral tinstone (cassiterite). Most objects from Prohear show tin values between 20 and 200 ppm, which also points to placer gold, if tin did not enter the gold during alloying or smelting. In summary it can be said that we find Prohear objects made from natural electrum, silver and gold, as well as from intentional alloys. Additionally, old metals may also have been reused. For example, the first group mentioned above, which also shows a uniform palladiumplatinum ratio, would fit well a natural electrum from a placer. Given the purity of the silver used in Prohear objects it is very likely that this precious metal was produced directly by mining and not extracted from galena, as in the Roman Empire. By Sandra Schlosser



Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress

86 Metal objects contain the fingerprint of its origin and fabrication. The secrets of nearly 50 gold and silver samples are visualized by Sandra Schlosser at the CurtEngelhorn-Centre for Archaeometry in Mannheim, Germany (Photo: CEZ-Archaeometry)

143 Burials 2 (2x), 3 (3x), 4 (5x), 8, 10, 12, 22 (4x), 24, 25 (2x), 26, 27 (2x), 34, 35 (2x), 43, 44, 45, and one sample of a stray find in Unit C. 144 For details about the methods, see S. Schlosser / R. Kovacs / E. Pernicka / D. Günther / M. Tellenbach 2009.

ments (Au, Ag, Cu, Sn) about 25 trace elements were also analyzed (ill. 86). The results of the first sample series of 30 objects are in many respects surprising and promising. Thus far, all the analyzed samples came from the smallest and least valuable gold-silver objects, like fragments of small wire spirals rings from 16 different graves143. By analyzing the gold-silver artifacts using a quadrupole ICP-MS (X SeriesII, Thermo Electron Corporation) with collision cell technology144 and a scanning electron microscope (ZEISS EVO MA 25), it was found that only 12 of all 30 objects contained more gold than silver. The preliminary results indicate interesting relations in space and time between different burials, which we will formulate in detail after finishing all analyses. * Until now, we knew of only a few comparable analyses of early gold objects from Vietnam and Cambodia. These include an analyzed sample of a gold bead from the looted Sa Huynh burial site of Go Mun in Quang Nam province of the same date as Prohear. The result shows that it was natural gold (94 percent), with a low silver content (5 percent) and less than one percent other elements. This gold most likely came from a gold source in central Vietnam, a different source

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress
than the gold from Prohear145. The low silver content suggests placer gold. From the cemetery Phum Snay, where about 50 inhumations were discovered and dated from about 100 BC-AD 500, only two gold earrings from burial 11/2007 were found. The analyses of the Japanese team show a composition of 70 percent gold and 30 percent silver without copper. Other trace elements were not mentioned. The high gold content is similar to the richest gold objects from Prohear. The gold earrings from Phum Snay were interpreted as having “intentionally added silver to the gold” to produce a composition with the “maximum strength” for gold-silver alloys146. Regarding our results for Prohear, we cannot agree with this interpretation for the gold objects from Phum Snay. That composition is more reminiscent of the gold-silver objects in group 1 from Prohear, which we believe were made from natural electrum panned from rivers. The same composition of both rings from Phum Snay points to electrum from one location. It is also hard to comprehend why gold-silver ornaments have to be produced with “maximum strength”147. From the great gold collection of the Transbassac region in southern Vietnam, Louis Malleret published the results of samples of two objects: an ingot of 7 grams and a wire fragment of 2.8 grams. Both are from silver-rich gold with noticeable copper content that suggests an intentional alloy148. The largest series of gold analyses from Southeast Asia comprises about 100 samples of Javanese gold objects from the Hunter Thompson collection and was conducted in the 1990s at the Rathgen Research Laboratory in Berlin149. Although the origin and dating of the objects is still unclear, these objects are still of relevance to Prohear. As J. Riederer noted, “… the very old objects in the collection… are of a very low gold content, 20-30%” and “… the amount of gold in the Javanese alloys tends to decrease the older the alloys are”150. That reminds us of the analyses of the objects from group 1 at Prohear, but this does not mean that Prohear’s gold came from Indonesia. This statement points to the possibility that a high silver content in early gold objects could be a common feature in Southeast Asia! A recently published geological study lists 19 gold mines in Cambodia. The Sampeou Loon deposit is closest to Prohear. It is situated


145 A. Reinecke / Lê Duy Sơn 2000, 17; analyzed by Joachim Lutz, formerly at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg. 146 S. Hieda / H. Yoshimitsu / K. Shigeru 2008, 141. 147 Pers. comm. Sandra Schlosser (Mannheim) on 12th August 2009. 148 Silver 19.24 resp. 10.26 percent, copper 5.36 resp. 1.20 percent; see L. Malleret 1962, 460. His comment on p. 8: “Il semble donc…que les orfèvres de l’époque aient su incorporer au métal précieux certaines quantités de cuivre pur et d’argent qui suffisaient à le rendre résistant”. 149 J. Riederer 1994 und 1999. 150 J. Riederer 1999, 67.


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress

87 More illusion than reality: Some ‘golden’ objects from Prohear like this small ring from burial 3, clearly show under the microscope that a silver core was covered on the surface with a precious gold foil with a high gold ratio (Photo: S. Schlosser) 88 The silver core of a small spiral ring from burial 4 was wrapped with gold foil. The red arrows show the edges of the foil dressing (Photo: S. Schlosser)

151 S. Sotham 2004. 152 Nguyễn Nghiêm Minh 2005, 111, 121. 153 L. Malleret 1962, p. 5.

only 85 km to the northeast and is near the site of Memot in Kampong Cham province (ill. 89)151. In March 2009 we visited Sampeou Loon. This gold deposit had been discovered by local farmers in 1985 and is now under the concession of a Chinese owned company, but was closed down by the Cambodian government. The whole area is perforated by 3-5 m deep holes, the remains of the gold rush that ensued in 1992 and brought about 2000 gold miners to work in that area (S. Sotham 2004). Farther to the north, we know of gold deposits from Laos (Phu Kham, approximately 100 km north-northeast of Vientiane), central Vietnam north of Dac Lac province (e.g. Bong Mieu152) and to the northwest in Thailand (Phichit province, about 45 km southeast of Phichit). We also expect to find alluvial gold in rivers and in alluvial sediments of the Mekong Delta. Louis Malleret had already speculated about gold-containing sands in the plains of Rach Gia, but could not follow-up on this matter153. In Go De village in Long An province in 2007, villagers reported that they had panned small gold fragments from the sand (ill. 90). We suspected that they were panning small gold foil fragments from looted or destroyed graves, because many villagers in that area had found gold beads and other objects in the soil. However, it cannot be excluded that in some areas placer gold was actually found. Indeed, it seems hard to believe that gold panning at any time in this region could be so productive as to find enough gold to produce jewelry like that found in Prohear or around Oc Eo (see Chapter 11.3 and 11.5).

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress


89 The abandoned gold mine of Sampeou Loon near Memot in Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia in April 2009: a – general view; b – one hole dug (4-5 m deep) in a perforated area that in 1992 was the focus of exploitation by about 2000 villagers, local miners and migrant workers; c – entrance for deep ore mining (12-20 m) by a Chinese owned company (Photos: L./A. Reinecke)

Rich deposits of electrum and epithermal gold deposits with high silver content are recorded in southern China. This region has one of the richest precious metal deposits in the world. At the junction of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangxi provinces, significant sedimentary rock-hosted Carlin-like deposits form the so-called ‘Southern Golden Triangle’ south of the ‘Northern Golden Triangle’ of China in northwest Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi. The ‘Southern Golden Triangle’ is also known as the Dian-Qian-Gui area154. Some of the most important deposits in the ‘Southern Golden Triangle’ are in Jinfeng (Lannigou), Zimudang, Getang, Yata and Banqui in Guizhou province, as well as Jinya and Gaolong deposits in Guangxi province155. Additionally some important gold deposits can be found in Yunnan as well, for example at Laowangzhai, Dongguolin, Jinchang, and Daping156. In chapters 11 und 12 we will discuss some strong archaeological evidence for contact between Prohear and southern China’s ‘Southern Golden Triangle’ (see map 2). This will reveal the possibility for a long distance origin for the precious metal objects found in southeast Cambodia.

154 Khin Zaw / S.G. Peters / P. Cromie / C. Burrett / Zengquian Hou 2007, 23. 155 Ibidem, table 1, 9-10. 156 Ibidem, 10, 27.


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress

90 Go De, Long An province, near the Mekong Delta. Villagers are demonstrating gold panning (Photo: A. Reinecke)

5 Small beads – big information
Many burials of women, children, and men in Prohear were furnished with beads made primarily from glass (about 2580 items). But some were also made from precious stones including 70 garnet beads, 20 carnelian beads, and 20 agate beads. The exact number of beads cannot yet be determined because some burials were saved en bloc, and are still awaiting restoration in the Memot Centre. Looters found some rock crystal beads as well. However they were sold and only photos remain (ill. 95). Beads of glass or the aforementioned stone variants are found in Cambodia and Vietnam as early as the middle of the last millennium BC. However, we cannot speak of a real ‘stream of beads’ arriving from the coast and rivers, and being distributed over large areas before the end of the 2nd century BC. Thus, beads also give us a kind of benchmark for dating burials and sites in mainland Southeast Asia. The 52 burials at Prohear containing about 3000 beads from stone or glass are quite ‘normal’ for a site with burials that date mainly to about 200 BC-AD 50 (ill. 91). For comparison, at the cemetery in Giong Lon, about 2350 beads were found amongst 79 excavated

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress


91 Blue and red glass beads and beads made from carnelian, agate, and garnet from different burials (Photo: A. Reinecke)

burials157. We also know of sites from the same period that are much richer in beads, such as Lai Nghi in central Vietnam that had more than 10,000 beads in 63 burials. One burial alone (burial 27) had more than 3000 beads made from glass or precious stones158. There are also sites much poorer in beads, such as Go O Chua in southern Vietnam, which had only about 50 beads in 62 burials. This may be an indicator that most of the burials at Go O Chua are 100-200 years older than the inhumations in Prohear.

How common were glass ornaments?
During the last century BC beads were some of the most common objects found in burials. Alone, they do not demonstrate the wealth of a population, or a single individual. We have already discussed the problem of different funeral customs and the unknown ‘scale of value’ (see Chapter 4). A pig tooth, as the last remains of an abundant

157 Vũ Quốc Hiền / Trương Đắc Chiến / Lê Văn Chiến 2007, 32-36; 2008a, 35; different total number in 2008b, 40-41. 158 A. Reinecke 2009a, 46-48.


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress

92 This clump of soil was found beside the skull in burial 46, and includes some hundred blue glass beads (Photo: A. Reinecke) 93 Some of these small blue glass beads (dia. 0.1-0.3 cm) from burial 3 show ‘broken ends’ (Photo: A. Reinecke)

banquet for the journey to the other world, could have been much more valuable than a few dozen glass beads. We are also reminded of the glass bead adhered to the bottom side of a smithing hearth (Chapter 5). This may indicate glass beads were scattered around the Iron Age village, and were hardly noticed in everyday life. In only six burials no glass beads were found. But these are all partially destroyed inhumations. A few more richly equipped burials had more than 150 beads including graves 24, 33, 34, 46 (ill. 92). The richest collection, more than 500 beads, was found in burial 46, together with three gold ornaments weighing a total of 21 grams (ill. 68:7 and 70). Eleven burials included fragments of glass earrings. Three graves contained small remains of bracelets made from a deep-blue or light blue glass. If we want to assume that large amounts of glass were an expression of wealth, we must also consider grave 15 with 40 glass earrings and grave 49 with 21 glass earrings (ill. 53). We think that both burials belong to the older mortuary period I and phase IIa, in which glass ear jewelry functioned as an antecedent to gold jewelry during mortuary phase IIb.

Bead variants in Prohear
During their first great ‘distribution wave’ in the 2nd/1st century BC, glass beads were relatively modest in shape and color. The most common beads in Prohear are small blue beads, known as ‘Indo-Pacific

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress
beads’, with a maximum diameter of 0.3 cm159. Sometimes they are not rounded but appear to have been broken off a tube, and retain their sharp edges (ill. 93). In these beads we can assume that the last step, in which the chopped tube fragments were stirred over heat to round off their edges, remained unfinished160. Compared with other burial sites the small number of ‘Indo-Pacific beads’ colored light blue (e.g. burials 8, 11, 14, 23) or red-brown (burial 24) is notable. Small green or yellow beads, popular from other sites of this period like Lai Nghi, are missing. In addition to these ‘mini-beads’ we found in a few burials larger unrounded blue beads (diam. 0.4-0.8 cm), and beads in a rarer green color (burial 24, 33). We also discovered black glass disc shaped beads (burial 34, 39, 42; ill. 94), and red-brown disc-shaped beads (burials 34 and 43). Moreover, there are some uniquely colored silver-white beads from burial 4 (diam. 0.2-0.3 cm) or an opaque-yellow variant that was a stray find in Unit A. With this list the inventory of glass beads from Prohear is finished. We mentioned already, that at Prohear we did not find as many stone beads as glass beads (for stone beads see Chapter 11.6). There are only a few variations of stone beads, primarily bicone and barrelshaped (agate, carnelian), spherical (carnelian) or rounded shapeless pieces (garnet). A single carnelian bead is hexagonal (burial 47), and two more have a plano-rectangular cross section (burial 24). However, we know that the looters found greater numbers of stone beads in other shapes, such as long tube-shaped agate beads (ill. 95). It is also notable that beads were often not found near the neck or chest like a necklace, but sometimes scattered over the whole skull as a head/hair ornament (burial 35) or close to the wrists and bracelets (burials 14, 23, 24, 33; ill. 62). In one case a bead was stuck together with a gold finger ring (burial 33; ill. 68:8) indicative of wrist or hand ornaments. * By studying beads from different sites in Cambodia, including a collection from Prohear, Alison K. Carter (Madison) will find out how people in these different areas were interacting with one another (ill. 96).


94 More seldom are black disc-shaped beads like these from burial 42, diam. 0.9 cm (Photo: A. Reinecke)

95 Thousands of beads were found and sold by the villagers, including these long tubular-shaped agate and rock crystal beads, length of the left bead 6.4 cm (Photo: Seng Sonetra)

159 I. Glover / J. Henderson 1995, 144. 160 P. Francis 1991, 29.


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress

96 By analyzing glass and stone jewelry from Prohear, Alison K. Carter (Madison) is hoping to uncover information on their origin, distribution and manufacturing processes (Photo: A.K. Carter)

Beads are excellent objects for studying ancient trade … because they are small and easily transportable. At the same time, they often carry evidence of how and sometimes when and where they were made. This evidence can help archaeologists trace the beads back to their original manufacturing locations and identify the trade networks that moved them across the landscape. Additionally, examining how ancient people used beads can tell us more about how that society was organized. For example, different cultures around the world have used beads to distinguish themselves from other people, as a way to display wealth, as a currency, or in religious ceremonies. One of the primary ways to study beads is to understand how they were made, because different cultures had different beadmaking traditions. For glass beads, we can distinguish different beadmaking traditions by understanding the recipe being used to make the glass. During the Iron Age period there were several different glass recipes in circulation that can generally be tied to different locations and time

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress


periods. Glass recipes can be studied by doing compositional analysis of the glass. One technique used in this analysis is Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). This is a virtually non-destructive technique that determines the different elements, and by extension the different recipes, in each glass object. Most of the beads in this region are small monochromatic glass beads called ‘Indo-Pacific beads’ that come in many colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, and white. At Prohear, the main type of glass is called potash glass. This means that it has high levels of potassium oxide (K2CO3), which is added to lower the melting point of glass and make it easier to work. Many different sites in Cambodia (e.g. Village 10.8, Phnom Borei, Phum Snay) and the whole of Southeast Asia, including Ban Non Ta Phet in Thailand and Giong Ca Vo in Vietnam, also have beads made from potash glass (M.N. Haidle / U. Neumann 2004; J.W. Lankton / L. Dussubieux 2006). With further research, we hope to tell if these different sites were getting their potash glass beads from the same source and interacting with one another. Stone beads can also be analyzed to understand how and where they were made. The process of making stone beads from carnelian or agate was labor intensive and took a high degree of skill. By closely examining the surface or the drill hole of a stone bead with a microscope, marks of the manufacturing process are visible. These clues can be compared with other beads to determine if they were being made in a similar fashion. Multiple beads with similar manufacturing techniques could be the result of a single bead-making workshop or tradition. Like glass beads, stone beads can also undergo compositional analysis using LA-ICP-MS. In this case, the composition of an ancient bead is compared with the composition of a geological source to find a location that seems to be the best match. Although this analysis is still in the preliminary stages, it appears that the carnelian and agate beads from Prohear fall more closely into the group of sources from South Asia than Southeast Asia. However, the garnet beads may have come from nearby garnet sources in what is now Vietnam. With continued analysis and research we will soon have more information on where the stone and glass beads from Prohear came from and how Prohear fit into the broader trade networks in Southeast Asia. By Alison K. Carter


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress
The examination of the origin and distribution of glass beads in Southeast Asia is an exciting field of bead research, and closely linked with research on trade routes and interregional contacts. In the last ten years, many analyses of large bead collections were done. James W. Lankton (London) discusses this exciting research below.
Several types of potash glass of the last few centuries BC … are found all over Southeast Asia. It is possible that people in what is now Vietnam and Cambodia were perfectly capable of making this potash glass at that early time. So far, soda glass is so rare in most early Iron Age cultures in Southeast Asia that local production, at least in Vietnam and Cambodia, seems unlikely. The manufacture of the early types of Southeast Asian potash glass may actually have stopped in most parts of Southeast Asia when what appear to be large numbers of drawn beads made from South Asian soda glass first appear in about the first century BC. The only major known exception to the early-potash, later-soda glass rule was at Khao Sam Kaeo (KSK) in peninsular Thailand. There, dating from about the 4th to 3rd century BC, a particular type of soda glass, higher in MgO and much higher in uranium (up to 400 parts per million) as compared to South Asian soda glass with uranium ca 10-30 ppm), was used extensively in the workshops of KSK to make bracelets and lapidary-worked beads. The finished bracelets and beads were then exchanged around Southeast Asia. While we do not know where this ‘KSK’ type of soda glass was made, the geographic limitation of its distribution would point toward someplace in the Upper Thai-Malay Peninsula, possibly very near Khao Sam Kaeo itself. After the turn of the millennium, soda glass becomes much more common (e.g. almost all of the analysed samples from Angkor Borei and Oc Eo). Most of this soda glass is very high in Al2O3, and is consistent with a South Asian origin. Then, at some time between about the 2nd and 4th centuries AD the picture changes again, and there is a fair amount of soda glass with moderate Al2O3 and CaO, usually in the form of beads, often colored blue with cobalt, found at a number of sites in Southeast Asia and as far north as the Korean Peninsula. It seems likely that this glass has a Southeast Asian origin, with one possible production site at Khlong Thom in peninsular Thailand, although there may be other production areas as well. By James W. Lankton

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress
Certainly, the first glass was a precious curiosity for the inhabitants of Prohear and many other pre-Funan people in the 4th/3rd centuries BC161. How long did it take for local craftsmen to recognize how it was made? Perhaps, only a short time!


Glass as an ideal substitute to imitate stone ornaments
As early as the second century BC, garnet beads and large dark blue glass beads (both with a diameter of about 0.8 cm) were found together in some graves (e.g. burial 33, 35). During the excavation, we found that at first glance unwashed glass beads are hard to distinguish from garnet beads (ill. 80). It seems that both kinds of beads were used alternatively. Moreover, it appears that even though glass was a ‘newcomer’ at this early period, it was already used to make imitations of precious stones. Glass is easily made from raw materials available almost everywhere and was the ideal substitute to imitate the rarer stone beads. One impressive example are the glass double-headed animal earrings from the Giong Ca Vo site. At first, six pieces were published, apart from a few made from stone162. But a later revaluation showed that there were actually eight copies of glass, not six, and that two pieces made from dark green glass that were not immediately recognized by the excavators. They appeared to have been artificially patinated to make a papyrus-colored surface which looks quite similar to nephrite jewelry163. Moreover, it seems that not only the garnet beads from Prohear or the bicephaleous earrings from Giong Ca Vo, but also almost all local stone jewelry variants were copied in glass in lightning-speed. These include earrings with three protrusions (lingling-o) as well as split earrings from many different sites of this period. All were in colors similar to the original nephrite stone ornaments. Using glass to make precious stone imitations seems to have been a main impetus for the quick distribution of glass all over Southeast Asia. As a result, glass makers were some of the first successful fakers in this region.

Glass making – a local handicraft?
Because of the many thousands of glass beads found at nearly every Iron Age site in Southeast Asia in the last century BC, we assume that glass making, being similar to ironworking, was already a widespread

161 For a general view on the historical background, beginning of distribution and different types of glass beads in Southeast Asia see J.W. Lankton 2003, 60-61, I. Glover / J. Henderson 1995, 147155, and B. Bellina / I. Glover 2004, 74-75. 162 Đặng Văn Thắng / Nguyễn Thị Hậu / Vũ Quốc Hiện / Trịnh Căn / Nguyễn Kim Dung 1995, 146. 163 Both pieces from burial 93 GCV TS M27: Nguyễn Kim Dung / Trịnh Căn / Ðặng Văn Thắng / Vũ Quốc Hiện / Nguyễn Thị Hậu 1995, 36.


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress
handicraft in Southeast Asia. This corresponds to the identification of local objects such as the lingling-o or bicephalous earrings in the Sa Huynh culture area164. Both crafts have much in common, as they need similar hearths and blowers for high temperatures. They can use raw or recycled material, and they need a lot of fuel. Additionally, primary more than secondary glass production, must have been situated away from settlement areas, similar to iron ore smelting sites (see Chapter 5). Disputing this hypothesis is the fact we have not yet discovered enough evidence for local production of raw glass165, semi-products166, or production waste167. However, at this point in the research we still know of only a few dozen burial sites and small-scale excavations at settlements in Cambodia as well as southern and central Vietnam. Because we are still lacking clear archaeological evidence for glass workshops in pre-Christian times, the current interpretations are based more on chemical compositions of different glass types. It will be amazing to see how much history is behind the different potash/ soda/lime ratios. Do they actually reflect the trade routes of beads or the step-by-step distribution of raw glass, receipts, raw materials, or the movement of craftsmen? Either way, the answers will come from continued archaeological excavations and research in the future.

164 A. Reinecke 1996, 22-23, 46. 165 E.g. from Go Cam, Quang Nam province: Nguyen Thi Kim Dung / I. Glover / M. Yamagata 2006, 226. 166 A. Reinecke / Lê Duy Sơn 2000, 12, 16, 34. 167 E.g. from Go Thap, Dong Thap province: Le Thi Lien 2006, 235, 241 (that remains to be analyzed and proven); for more see I. Glover / J. Handerson 1995, 150.

6 Animal bones – remains of the last meal
Amongst the finds from Prohear are only a few morphologically identifiable animal bones. However, almost half of all graves contained teeth or small bone fragments that could be the remains of larger parts (skull or jaw) of an animal, though they were poorly preserved by the soil conditions. This problem is similar to the human skeletons, as discussed earlier. Only in the bottom of a jar burial was a large part of a pig mandible preserved (grave 5). The small human bones in this burial are from a child. The bronze bracelet with a small inside diameter of only 3.9 cm also points toward a child’s burial (ill. 97). Norbert Benecke (Natural Scientific Department of the Head Office of the German Archaeological Institute, Berlin) found that

Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress


97 View inside jar burial no. 5: On the bottom of a large ceramic vessel Norbert Benecke (Berlin) recognized a mandible of a more than two year old pig with full grown permanent dentition. Additionally a narrow bronze bangle (diam. 4 cm) and the bones of a child were found (Photo: A. Reinecke)

almost all small animal remains belonged to pigs of different ages. Only three tooth fragments of bovinae, perhaps from water buffaloes, were found, one of them was in the rich burial 4168. The animal remains did not find their way to the graves by chance. They are evidence for a component of the funeral custom and the most likely interpretation is as food offerings for the way to the after-life. Many animal bones show clear traces of fire. Their white color indicates that they were burnt in a fire of more than 250° C and may have been ‘grilled meat’ that had been given to the dead. These fired animal bones were not recognized during the excavation but were detected when Simone Krais examined the skeletal and bone remains in the Memot Centre. She also identified some burnt animal bones from five burials with edges too straight for a ‘break’169. It looks instead as if carving tools have been used, which would support the impression that ‘cooked food’ was offered. It is possible that the other animal bones that were not burned could have been heated under lower temperatures. In most cemeteries of the Bronze/Iron Age in Cambodia or southern Vietnam, pig skulls or jaws and other bones were discovered as offerings in burials. In the Iron Age burial site Go O Chua almost half the graves had evidence of pig jaws. In one burial a complete pig skull lay under the feet of an old man (ill. 98). An identical situation is described for a burial at the site of Koh Ta Meas, dated from about 1000 BC170. Pig skulls or jaws are also reported from the

168 Besides no. 4 also burials 9 and 13. 169 Burials 4, 9, 18, 26, 32. 170 C. Pottier 2006, 305.


Chapter 8: Analyses and their interpretations in progress

98 Burial 48 from Go O Chua: Jawbones or skulls of pigs are discovered at many Iron Age sites in Southeast Asia. However, due to the acidic soil conditions in Prohear, animal bones and human skeletons are rather poorly preserved in most burials. In view of the many small pig bone fragments and teeth we can assume that in Prohear, as at Go O Chua and other sites, pork was the favorite dish for the journey to the afterworld. Prohear and Go O Chua show many similar funeral features. For instance, in burial 48 of Go O Chua beside a well preserved skeleton were discovered a bowl near the back of the head (1), a small bottle on the right shoulder (2), 4 garnet beads around the skull (3), the skull of a pig below the heels (8), a human skull of another inhumation under the forefeet (4) and many ceramic fragments (5-7) (Photo: A. Reinecke)

171 M. Stark 2001, 24 and 26; S.K. Sovannara 2008, 109; C. Pottier 2006, 305. 172 A. Reinecke 2008, 401-402. 173 A. von den Driesch / D.J.W. O’Reilly / V. Voeun 2006. 174 C. Pottier 2006, 305.

Iron Age cemeteries of Vat Komnou, Phum Krasang Thmei or Prey Khmeng171. Certainly, a last meal for the dead could have been more luxurious. Besides pig, the meals could have included chicken or fish as well as crocodile and tortoise which were common parts of the diet in a population living near bodies of water. Remains of these animals have also been found at Go O Chua172, Phum Snay173 and Koh Ta Meas174. It is notable that the richest burial 4 was also unique in having the remains of three different animals: pig, fish and bovinae (possible buffalo). Unfortunately, the bones of many small animals are not well preserved amidst the finds, and are also more difficult to identify.


Chapter 9: Have a look under a coating of rust – wonderful restored objects
Restoration is like a second excavation as things that were not recognizable amongst the smashed pottery or because of a thick coating of rust become visible. Only well-preserved bronze objects or the precious metal, stone, or glass offerings show their true face after a first cleaning during the excavation. On average, each of the 52 discovered burials contained between five and twenty broken vessels (diameters vary from around 8 cm to larger than 50 cm) and many fragments of other ceramics. During the excavations in Prohear, several thousand fragments of some hundred restorable vessels were recorded. Thus, restoration of the ceramics began with the cleaning and reconstruction of the pots. In order to glue the sherds together Paraloid B72 glue diluted with Acetone was used. Many other kinds of glue that are traditionally used in temperate zones (e.g. UHU) do not harden under the high humidity and heat in Cambodia, and the vessels often break down after a few days. Composing the ceramics using this special glue requires much time because the adhesive hardens very slowly in tropical conditions. Thus far, about 250 vessels have been rebuilt and the missing parts were filled in with gypsum (ill. 60 and 99). The metal restoration includes approximately 100 iron offerings, 35 bronze objects, and the cleaning of 96 gold or silver pieces of jewelry. Generally, the restoration work of all metal artifacts starts with the documentation of their original uncleaned state (weight, measurements etc.). The pieces are then carefully examined under a microscope to detect organic remains, traces of use and production, and other features on their surface (ill. 100). Before and during cleaning or restoration, photos of each object are taken to record their state and shape. Cleaning of pure gold ornaments (or those objects with a small ratio of silver) is not difficult. Generally, water, a soft brush, and cotton are good enough to remove soil from the surface. Sometimes there is a red stain that must be cleaned using a scalpel or bamboo sticks. This must be done with great caution otherwise we would cre-


Chapter 9: Have a look under a coating of rust

99 The laboratory of the Memot Centre in Phnom Penh in 2008: Thanks to the help of students from the Faculty of Archaeology and Fine Arts of the Royal University of Fine Arts the ceramic restoration of Prohear ceramics has a good start (Photo: A. Reinecke)

ate new marks on the surface of the gold objects. Some gold ornaments with a high silver ratio have a black-grey silver oxide corrosion that is difficult to remove mechanically or with normal solvents.

100 Restoration of metal objects starts with examining the surface under a microscope (Photo: Seng Sonetra)

Chapter 9: Have a look under a coating of rust


Metal Restoration Laboratory in the Memot Centre for Archaeology Metal restoration requires technical training and equipment that is not yet available in most parts of Southeast Asia. Instead the majority of all excavated iron and bronze objects are sitting unrestored in museum storage. This makes scientific interpretation and analysis almost impossible, because an unrestored iron artifact is hiding its real form under a thick rust coating, and the unrestored bronze objects are very fragile and difficult to handle. In 2006 the Memot Centre for Archaeology (see: metal restoration laboratory was established in the compound of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in Phnom Penh with the support of the German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD), the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz (RGZM; see:, the Conservation Office of Freiburg, Gerd and Barbara Albrecht (Badenweiler) and many private donors from Germany. The Lab was inaugurated in December 2006. Two Cambodian archaeologists were trained at the RGZM with a generous grant from The Alexander Rave Foundation (see: http://cms.ifa. de/en), and private donors of the Memot Centre. For two years a great number of iron and bronze objects from the Iron Age burial site of Krek 10.8 were restored.Thanks to the support of the German Embassy in Phnom Penh and the Federal Foreign Office’s “Cultural Preservation Program”, the restoration of the newly discovered finds from Prohear could begin immediately after the first rescue excavation campaign in July 2008.

In this case, cotton buds dipped in a solution of water with a low concentration of sulfuric acid can be used to softly clean the gold-silver alloy. After cleaning, the item must be soaked in water for twice as long as it had contact with sulfuric acid. The restoration of bronze objects starts by cleaning with acetone, ethanol and using a scalpel or bamboo sticks to remove dust and corrosion from the surface. If the crust is too hard, it can be removed by carefully using an abrasion machine. If there is still metal core left, more complicated treatments must be applied (BTA, silver oxide) to prevent further corrosion. Some bronze artifacts are very thin and fragile because the bronze has turned into a soft powdery substance


Chapter 9: Have a look under a coating of rust

101 A shapeless iron tool showed its ‘real character’ during restoration and revealed a socketed axe (Photo: A. Reinecke)

102 Two different iron bracelets before (1-2) and after restoration (3-4): 1/3 – from burial 2, 2/4 – from burial 7 (Photos: A. Reinecke)

Chapter 9: Have a look under a coating of rust


after reacting with oxygen and other soil conditions. After careful cleaning, glass fiber strips are used to strengthen and fixate the fragile pieces. The cleaned bronzes are then stabilized with Acryloid B 72 and coated with mineral wax Cosmoloid H 80 diluted in a white spirit, to maintain and to protect the artifact from direct contact with the environment. The treatment of an iron object is more laborious but produces terrific surprises, because most of the iron offerings from Prohear are hidden under a thick rust coating. This coating is so thick that the excavators could barely distinguish an iron tool from a bangle. Sometimes during cleaning and restoration, an ‘iron tool’ is revealed to be two objects that were attached to one another (ill. 101). We were deeply impressed by the variety of iron bracelets that would have been absolutely unrecognizable without restoration. Or in other words, much valuable information about these important items would be

103 Cleaning the iron objects carefully using sandblasters is the primary step in transforming a rusty lump to a beautiful exhibition object (Photo: A. Reinecke)


Chapter 9: Have a look under a coating of rust
lost forever without careful restoration (ill. 102). To remove the rust coating and to clean the iron object, abrasion machines and sandblasters are available (ill. 103). After cleaning, the iron objects were also stabilized with Acryloid B 72 and protected with mineral wax Cosmoloid H 80 diluted with a solvent (white spirit). The restored bronze and iron objects are safely stored in an airtight container with a soft bed and a bag of silica gel to prevent further corrosion caused by the hot air and high humidity outside. We have to check the restored items regularly to look for signs of new corrosion. For advice on this subject we are grateful to our colleagues from the Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums (RGZM) in Mainz/ Germany, Markus Egg, Uwe Herz and all the specialists who gave training and help to facilitate the restoration work. We are also thankful for Matthias Heinzel, who spent his time in Cambodia installing all the equipment in the laboratory and giving extra training and advice in both the field and in the lab.


Chapter 10: Strangers in Prohear
Prohear was a secluded, unknown village. This has changed. No, not by our excavation campaigns in the last two years, but by the newly built asphalt road that crosses Cambodia in a west-east direction, and since 2009 has connected Prohear with the outside world. It is very likely that during the last two years more Western foreigners visited Prohear than during the 100 years before. The villagers were good hosts for our team. This was not expected at the beginning of the excavations, as there were some dramatic prejudices on both sides before the first get-together. The villagers believed that “Foreigners want to take away all our valuable things!” For the foreigners, we wondered, “How can we organize an excavation in the midst of looters and return home unscathed?” The slogan: “Yes, we can!” emboldened us to give it a try. As strangers and guests, we have gained experience being surrounded by ‘digging experts’. During our stay there were no frosty relationships in the village, but animated conversation and an opportunity to get to know one another. The villagers had free time, because our excavations took place at the end of the dry season, during which time almost everyone was resting before the imminent tillage of their fields. They were playing cards under the shade of their stilt houses, renewing their roofs, working in their gardens, or taking their water buffaloes to the field. Sometimes they organized cockfights for about 100 spectators only 30 meters away from our ‘Unit D’. However, everyday many villagers curiously watched what was happening in the middle of their main road (ill. 104-107). During the first week, the onlookers were bored and commented about the extremely slow progress of our excavation. In contrast, they had dug out many thousands of square meters with innumerable burials in only a few months, and made a bigger haul than our long shot ‘brushing-team’. However, after a few weeks of the excavation many villagers began to recognize that it was not the ‘amount per time’ that was important for the ‘strangers’. Out of pity, they now began to observe the events on the road.


Chapter 10: Strangers in Prohear

104 The future of Prohear (Photo: A. Reinecke) 105 Making a roof from palm leaves during the dry period, in which villagers take rest from field work (Photo: A. Reinecke) 106 The excavation is under continuous observation (Photo: A. Reinecke)

107 Cockfight: Seen as a carving at the Bayon temple in Angkor and in Prohear in action (Photo: A. Reinecke)

Chapter 10: Strangers in Prohear


108 H.E. German Ambassador Markus F. Mann and his wife visiting Prohear, May 2008 (Photo: L. Reinecke)

109 Burials are on ‘XXL-camera’ (Photo: L. Reinecke)


Chapter 10: Strangers in Prohear
It was a great pleasure for us that in May 2008, during our first excavation season, the German Ambassador Frank M. Mann together with his wife came from Phnom Penh to honor our excavation with a visit. This visit was surely a high point in the village’s unwritten chronicle, as our presence had already become an everyday occurrence (ill. 108). At the beginning of the next campaign in February 2009, the uniqueness of this site and of the excavation was already becoming well known. In the beginning of March 2009 we were joined by a film team from the “Deutsche Welle” channel under the direction of Jörg Seibold. They filmed at the Memot Centre in Phnom Penh, at the gold mine of Sampeou Loon about three hours by car northeast from Prohear, and of course at the excavation site in Prohear. In four days shooting, eight tapes were produced, which were then cut down to nine broadcasting minutes and combined with shots from the German-Cambodian restoration project in Angkor. For authentic ambience in the village, living pigs were set in motion in front of the ‘XXL-camera’ of Thomas Koppehele, water buffaloes were moved about the scenery, and the village musician, Kong Quern, took out

110 Scenechange: Drawing attention to restoration work in the Memot Centre, Phnom Penh (Photo: L. Reinecke)

Chapter 10: Strangers in Prohear


111 German delegation visiting Unit D in Prohear, March 2009 (Photo: L. Reinecke)

112 Kong Sung, the record holder for digging bronze drums, climbs up a ten meter high coconut tree (Photo: L. Reinecke)

his two-string fiddle to play for the microphone of Friederike Wagmann (ill. 109-110). On the 8th of March 2009, a new wave of ‘foreign immigrants’ came to Prohear, employees of the German Embassy and German aid organizations came from Phnom Penh along with their families to visit the excavation. On this occasion, Kong Sung, the record-discoverer of bronze drums, courageously climbed a ten meter high palm, wearing only a sarong around his feet to aid him, and picked coconuts for the refreshment of the foreign visitors. For our team it was a great pleasure that the guests were not disappointed by the archaeology. They returned to Phnom Penh and visited the Memot Centre on the 4th of April to check on the progress of the restoration work (ill. 111-114). In 2008 and 2009 we also welcomed colleagues from the Faculty of Archaeology of the Royal University of Fine Arts175, from the Ministry of Culture Fine Arts Department of Archaeology and Prehistory176, a television film crew from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and colleagues from the Department of Culture and Fine Arts in Prey Veng province. We were grateful to all our guests on the excavation and in the lab for the exchange of ideas and moral support.

175 Mao Chhengleng, Kong Vireak, Chy Rotha, Sun Chandeb. 176 Pel Vithar, Chheng Sereivuthy, Buay Raiya, Mon Tha, Heng Sreang.


Chapter 10: Strangers in Prohear

113 The excavation team together with visitors (Photo: L. Reinecke)

114 Discussing finds and restoration work with German visitors in the Memot Centre (Photo: L. Reinecke)


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
At present, the cemetery in Prohear is one of the richest prehistoric sites in Southeast Asia. Due to the increased research and fieldwork activities that have taken place over the last 15 years, we have new information on other Bronze/Iron Age burial sites. In the last two chapters, we want to go further into questions regarding the common traditions and relationships that these sites had with one another during the last millennium BC. Were there overwhelming cultural differences or were commonalities more prevalent despite gaps in time and space? What role did Prohear play in these Iron Age interaction networks? Does Prohear’s great number of exotic gold-silver ornaments and unique bronze items point more towards successful trade, or do we have to interpret them as the result of immigration?

1 Recently discovered neighbors and their burial customs
Let’s first have a look at the remarkable continuity of funeral traditions in the Cambodian-southern Vietnamese area during the early Metal Age. Over this period the offerings in the burials would have changed by type, material, and value, however we can still assign some benchmarks. From about the 4th century BC, iron objects were added to bronze offerings in burials. During the 3rd century BC, the first glass and garnet jewelry are found in burials. Lastly, during the 1st century BC jewelry of gold, silver, carnelian, agate and rock crystal177 become increasingly more common. Some rich burials also have offerings of non-local bronze goods. Overall funeral practices did not change much during the 1st millennium BC and were quite similar across the whole region. Funeral practices change when one reaches the bay of Vung Tau, where some of the southernmost jar burial sites of the Sa Huynh culture are situated (see Chapter 5). From the earliest known burials at Koh Ta Meas dating from about 1000 BC to the latest graves of Phum Snay dating to AD 500, inhumations were the common custom for adults in

177 Beads from the last three materials are found in Thailand in large quantities since the 4th century BC (pers. comm. I. Glover on 16th October 2009).


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
Cambodia. Small children seem to be interred in jar burials more often178. Cremation is mentioned with other funeral practices in Chinese records of the 1st millennium AD, but seldom attested at the sites of Go Thap179, Oc Eo180 and possibly Vat Komnou181. During this long period the inhumations are similar in their arrangement. The dead are placed on their back, with arms extended along the body. They are then wrapped in a bamboo mat, and surrounded by a number of broken pottery vessels. In contrast, the head orientation seems to have been a variable that changed due to breaks in culture and customs during the last thousand years BC. Because such modifications in custom can reflect a dramatic change we should briefly delve deeper into this subject. This also gives us the opportunity to introduce some other important prehistoric sites in this region. Unfortunately, the gaps in space and time between these sites are great and so the picture that we draw is only a sketchy one. At the Bronze Age burial site Koh Ta Meas in Siem Reap province near Angkor Wat, 27 graves dating to the centuries around 1000 BC were excavated in 2004-2005. They were separated into three different mortuary phases on the basis of stratigraphic observations, depth, burial offerings, and head orientation. Mortuary phase 1 with head orientation to the northeast is represented by only 2 burials. 15 burials with their head oriented to the south belong to mortuary phase 2, and mortuary phase 3 includes eight burials with their heads to the northeast182. Traveling forward about 600 years, we come to two burial sites: Go O Chua in southern Vietnam and Village 10.8 in southeast Cambodia. At Go O Chua 57 inhumations were excavated from 2004 to 2006. All are unified in their head orientation to the southeast with only one exception. The head in burial 42 is oriented to the opposite direction. We speculate that this burial 42 is the only representation of an early mortuary period discovered from about the 4th century BC. However this suggestion has to be verified with further excavations at this site (ill. 115). The inhumations with southeast orientation at Go O Chua primarily belong to the 3rd-2nd centuries BC. As already discussed (Chapter 8.3 and 8.5) most of the burials are poorly equipped with only ceramics, iron objects, and a few ornaments.

178 Not all children were buried in jar burials as is clearly attested by an inhumation of a newborn in burial 51 at Go O Chua. 179 Le Thi Lien 2006, 236. 180 P.-Y. Manguin 2004, 291, 293. 181 Le Thi Lien 2006, 236; at Vat Komnou, cremation has been indicated only by villagers’ reports (M.T. Stark 2001, 28). 182 C. Pottier 2006.

Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago


The burial site of Village 10.8, situated about 60 km northeast from Prohear, near Memot in Kampong Cham province, was excavated during seven campaigns from 2002 to 2008, but is not yet published (ill. 116). The first radiocarbon dates indicate that Village 10.8 belongs to the time from the 4th to 1st century BC183. About 50 burials were discovered and their offerings were richer than their contemporaries at Go O Chua, but more poor than at Prohear. Gold and silver objects were not found and bronze objects, like bracelets, are rare. The ‘big wave’ of glass or precious stone beads had still not arrived in southeast Cambodia. Therefore, the main funeral activities in Village 10.8 might be earlier than at Prohear. However, there could be some overlap into the beginning of mortuary period IIa of Prohear, for

115 Burial site of Go O Chua in Long An province: VietnameseGerman excavation on the Southern hillock in 2005 (Photo: A. Reinecke)

183 S. Soubert / G. Albrecht 2006.


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago

116 Burial site Village 10.8 in Kampong Cham province: Cambodian-German excavation in 2005 (Photo: A. Reinecke)

which we assume dates to the end of the 2nd century BC (see Chapter 3). The most interesting features from Village 10.8 are many types of implements and bracelets from iron. A unique bronze disc (diam. 15.1 cm) from Village 10.8 is relevant in view of the non-local bronze objects from Prohear, and especially to a similar bronze disc (diam. 13.2 cm) on the face of a child in burial 47 (Chapter 7.6). At first, we thought that the bronze object from Village 10.8, with three concentric rings around the central cone, could be a mirror (ill. 117). However, the conical knob in the center does not have a hole that could be used to hold the mirror by looping a cord through it, and on the other side is a small dent in the center. A second consideration was that it was a very shallow bronze bowl with a low rim of only 1-2 cm.

Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago


117 Shallow bronze bowl or decorative disc with cone from Village 10.8, diam. 15.1 cm (Photo: Seng Sonetra)

It is reminiscent of shallow omphalos bowls that are widespread across South and Southeast Asia, dating from the 4th century BC. These bowls were forerunners of the coming western influence from South Asia184, and about 20 similar bowls with a higher rim were discovered at the 4th century site Ban Don Ta Phet in central Thailand185. Similar omphalos bowls from Thanh Hoa province may belong to a later context dating to about 2000 years ago186. However, we are wary of the classification of this object as a ‘bowl’ in view of such a low

184 B. Bellina / I. Glover 2004, 75-77; B. Bellina 2007, 49-50. 185 I. Glover 1990, 156-157. 186 O.R.T. Janse 1962, esp. 286, Fig. 10 and 11.


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago

118 Excavation at the burial site of Vat Komnou in Takeo province by a Cambodian-American team (LOMAP) in 1999 (Photo: M.T. Stark)

187 A good parallel is a disc from burial 15 in Kele with a diam. of about 9 cm, see Guizhou Sheng Wenwu kaogu yanjiusuo (ed.) 2008, 451, ill. 36:5. 188 C.F.W. Higham / R. Thosarat 2004.

rim, which is more ornamental than functional. Therefore we should also take into consideration its classification as an ornamental disc, as similar discs with central cone but without an attachment hole have been found at the site of Kele in Guizhou province187. Finally, we also must ask about the head orientation of the burials in Village 10.8. The skeletons were not preserved but the position of offerings suggests that the most inhumations were oriented to the southeast. This is similar to the burials of the 3rd/2nd century at Go O Chua, but not exactly like the inhumations of mortuary period II at Prohear whose heads were to the south-southwest. In Village 10.8, some burials seem to have a west or east orientation (e.g. burial 31 and 35). These could be contemporaneous with the burials from mortuary period I at Prohear (about 500-150/100 BC). They were more poorly equipped than the dead at Village 10.8 but also oriented to the east or west. If we look beyond Cambodia to northeastern Thailand, then we find this E-W- or W-E-orientation at Ban Lum Khao in Nakhon Ratchasima province, during mortuary phase 3 that dates from 600 to 400 BC, almost contemporaneous with the early period at Village 10.8 and Go O Chua (Burial 42)188.

Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago


There are also seven burials at Village 10.8 for which it is assumed that the head is to the northeast. If we take a closer look at these inhumations then doubts arise. Distinct head ornaments were not found, which would help determine the body orientation. Therefore, these people may have also been buried with their head to the southwest with more divergence of some burials (e.g. 24 and 25) to the west than some burials of mortuary period II at Prohear. Thus in southern Cambodia and Vietnam at the end of the 3rd/2nd century BC we can see a common trend in head orientation to the south, with some divergences to S-SW or S-SE. This new custom may have been caused by a cultural push from the outside perhaps due to an immigration of new people into the area. It appears that this process began earlier at Go O Chua than at Prohear, where we assume a date for this change at the end of the 2nd century BC. This corresponds with the early phase of burials at the site of Vat Komnou at Angkor Borei, in Takeo province (ill. 118). More than 50 graves were excavated in 1999-2000 and belong to the period from the

119 Chronological overview about recently discovered burial sites of the Pre-Funan and Funan culture (Drawing: A. Reinecke)


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
2nd century BC to the 4th century AD (ill. 119)189. Although more than half of the burials were incomplete or indeterminate, most inhumations were buried with the head to south, southeast or southwest, corresponding perfectly with Go O Chua (southeast), Village 10.8 (southeast and maybe southwest) and Prohear period II (south-southwest). Furthermore, there are some burials at Vat Komnou with the head to the north or northeast190, which may belong to another period. The next early Iron Age cemetery, Phnom Borei, is situated about 6 km to the south of Vat Komnou. A small-scale excavation in 2004 provided nine burials dating from the 1st century BC, which relate to mortuary period II from Prohear. We were not surprised to find all the inhumations have the same head orientation to the southeast191. The last example for Cambodia that we want to take into account is the burial site of Phum Snay, dated to the period from about 100 BC to AD 500192. It is noteworthy, that so far this is the latest evidence for inhumations dating to the 5th century AD in northwest Cambodia. This has been confirmed by sufficient radiocarbon dates193, unlike at other burial sites that are also seen as late, but are not amply substantiated by enough dates (Phum Krasang Thmei194 or Prey Khmeng195). There were many offerings found at Phum Snay, from which the wealth of beads is most impressive. In some graves thousands of beads were discovered, but at the whole site only two electrum earrings. This is in clear contrast to the amount of the precious metal objects found in burials at Prohear. Actually, except for some utilitarian bead types or iron tools, there are few similarities with earlier cemeteries like Go O Chua, Village 10.8 or Prohear196. Even so, ‘buffalo bracelets’ (see Chapter 7.4) from looted graves in Phum Snay are a probable indication that the cemetery’s beginning overlaps with mortuary phase IIb from Prohear (about 100/50 BC-AD 100). Based on ceramic parallels, Y. Miyatsuka stressed influence from Yunnan in southern China, which might have arrived in Phum Snay around the 4th/5th century AD197. Additionally, the lead isotopic characteristics of most of the analyzed bronze artifacts from Phum Snay are similar to bronze objects from Thailand. Both groups should share characteristics of bronzes that were produced in the Huanan region (Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan) in China. By contrast,

189 M.T. Stark 2001, 28. 190 Pers. comm. Miriam T. Stark at 26th November 2008. 191 K. Phon 2009, 4. 192 For the early phase of the burial site of Phum Snay different dates are published. The most early radiocarbon date is mentioned as 348-307 BC for a burial excavated in 2001 (K.M. Domett / D.J.W. O’Reilly 2009, 56). Yet published documentations and known finds, esp. the ceramics, speak for a beginning at Phum Snay not before 100 BC. 193 Alone from the excavation in 2007, ten radiocarbon dates from different burials and cultural layers are available from Phum Snay. 194 Phum Krasang Thmei was set in the period from 1st century BC to 4th century AD, but this based on two radiocarbon dates (51 cal. BC – cal. AD 128 and cal. AD 137-341) from bone samples from that we do not know their collagen status (S.K. Sovannara 2008, 108).

Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
Vietnamese bronzes should be different, as another mining locality is assumed198. Some other offerings from Phum Snay are quite peculiar, such as the previously mentioned ceramic epaulettes with bronze or iron buffalo horns (ill. 76)199. Thus, Phum Snay is in many respects something special, and also the head orientation differs from period II at Prohear. The head orientation for men and women is “strictly” to the west, based on excavations in 2001 and in 2007200, but also to the east as found during excavations in 2003201. Probably the excavation units, which were located some hundred meters from one another202, reflect different periods and changing funeral customs. The 2003 excavations seem to overlap with the same time period as Prey Khmeng, where the inhumations have also been found with an east-west-orientation203. Turning from northwest Cambodia to the south, the few discovered burials in the Mekong Delta suggest another development in the regional funeral tradition. Besides Go O Chua, Vat Komnou, and Phnom Borei, we know of the burial site of Go Thap in Dong Thap province, that has the common southern head orientation of this period. At that site we have a unique indication about the change from inhumations to cremations taking place about 2000 years ago204. Thus far, there have been no more inhumations published from the Mekong Delta dating to the early Iron Age. This could indicate that the only occupied areas southwest of present-day Saigon fell within a narrow strip south of the modern Vietnamese-Cambodian border, except for some isolated sites (see Chapter 5). Let us now turn to the cultural position of Prohear in the 2nd/1st century BC based on the artifacts.


2 Relationships reflected in the bronze offerings
Covering or placing the head under or in bronze objects was seen at Prohear in burials 4 (skull in the bronze drum), 33 (skull under a bronze bowl), and 47 (skull under a disc). This custom is seldom found at other sites in Southeast Asia, although we have already mentioned similar inhumations (face under bowl) from Phum Snay and

195 From Prey Khmeng a charcoal sample is radiocarbon dated to 1910+/-40 BP (0-cal. AD 220), but also a dating in the 1st century AD to the 7th century AD is mentioned. In view of a similar east or west head orientation on both sites it seems possible that Prey Khmeng belongs to the same period like Phum Snay (R.K. Chhem / K. S. Venkatesh / S.-C. Wang / K.-M. Wong / F. J. Rühli / E.P.Y. Siew / K. Latinis / C. Pottier 2004, 235-236). 196 D.J.W. O’Reilly / K. Domett / P. Sytha 2006; Y. Yashuda (ed.) 2008. 197 “…kendi have a decorative pattern similar to the ‘Sun pattern’ of the pottery found at the Yo-Ho-To archeological site in Yunnan province” (M. Miyatsuka 2008, 88). 198 S. Kakukawa / S. Hieda / Y. Hirao 2008, 128. In this publication nothing is said about where the analyzed Vietnamese bronzes came from (northern or southern Vietnam) as well as for which types or cultures the selected samples are representative.


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
Dong Son (Chapter 7.5). Concerning the unusual head-in-drum practice, villagers told us that they almost always found skulls inside drums. This strange funeral custom has not been seen in Southeast Asia except at Prohear. To find it elsewhere, we must look to the north, to the burial site Liujiagou in the Kele community in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou. During excavations in 19761978 and 2000, dozens of burials of the Yelang culture were found with a cauldron or bronze drum covering the head205. The authors of the Kele publication wrote, that “head covered burials … never have been discovered in other areas of China, nor abroad”206. We will come back to this issue and the Yelang culture at the end of chapter 12.

199 D.J.W. O’Reilly / K. Domett / P. Sytha 2006, 217. 200 For 2001 excavation see D.J.W. O’Reilly / K. Domett / P. Sytha 2006, 209; for 2007 excavation: Y. Akayama: “… the orientations of the heads in burials containing human skeletal remains were strictly western…” (2008, 91). 201 For 2003 excavation see A. von der Driesch / D. J.W.O’Reilly / V. Voeun 2006, 106. 202 S.V. Lapteff 2009, 40. 203 R.K. Chhem / K. S. Venkatesh / S.-C. Wang / K.-M. Wong / F. J. Rühli / E.P.Y. Siew / K. Latinis / C. Pottier 2004, 236. 204 An exact date for this transition phase is not yet available. From two cremations there are radiocarbon dates with ranges that are too large: 2090+/-85 BP or 362 cal. BC- cal. AD 66 and 1770+/-60 BP or cal. AD 93-407 (Le Thi Lien 2006, 236). 205 Guizhou Provincial Museum 1986; 2003; Guizhou Sheng Wenwu kaogu yanjiusuo (ed.) 2008.

Disc, bowls, and bracelets
The bronze disc and bronze bowls very likely made their way to Prohear from southern China or northern Vietnam during the 1st century BC. We have already discussed similar offerings in elite burials from elsewhere in Southeast Asia (Chapter 7.5). It is possible that the bronze bell from grave 47 followed a similar path; however we have to confess that we are not sure about the dating of this bell in the last century BC (see Chapter 8.1). We mentioned above that the bronze and iron ‘buffalo bracelets’ were part of a widespread water buffalo cult that was distributed across Southeast Asia and southern China. However these objects also provide strong evidence for a direct relationship between Prohear and Phum Snay 2000 years ago. Only at Phum Snay were these bracelets found together with related bronze horn finger rings or epaulettes. This suggests an origin for the bronze buffalo bracelets in northwestern Cambodia or northeastern Thailand, where bronze horn finger rings are also known (Chapter 7.4; ill. 75 and 76). The relationship with southern China that we see at Prohear in terms of the bronze artifacts and drum-covered heads was also suggested for the site of Phum Snay. The Japanese–Cambodian team argues for this relationship based on the aforementioned lead isotope analyses for bronze types of an unidentified origin (Chapter 11.1). Furthermore, some bronze artifacts from Village 10.8 should also point towards a southern Chinese origin, although the results of the lead isotope analyses are not yet published in detail207.

Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago


In chapter 7.2 we discussed that the few bronze drums that are documented at Prohear have similar parallels with drums in south or central Vietnam, which most likely have their origins from the primary distribution center in northern Vietnam208. Most of the bronze drums of Heger I type from the other side of the border in the southern Chinese provinces of Yunnan209, Guangxi210, Guizhou211, and Sichuan212 differ in details of their decoration. Without a doubt, the bronze drums from Prohear are typical representatives of the Dong Son variant and not of the Dian variant from Yunnan213. Twenty years ago only a few bronze drums had been discovered in central and southern Vietnam in contrast to the north. Since then, the distribution map has changed greatly with the discoveries of about 50 drums in this region214. Around a few dozen bronze drums have been uncovered from sites in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and island Southeast Asia215. Meanwhile, the total number of all Heger I bronze drums, including the miniature variant, is estimated at more than 500 pieces. The looted burial site of Bit Meas in Prey Veng province is worse off than Prohear. Unfortunately, we have no fragments or pictures of the bronze drums found at that site (see Chapter 1). The villagers of Bit Meas did not know what a bronze drum was. During their digging in 2006 they called them “bronze pots”, in Khmer “chhnang kvan”. One year later when the looting in Prohear started, participating ‘specialists’ from Bit Meas introduced this term to Prohear and the real bronze drums were again labeled “chhnang kvan”. Therefore, we can safely assume that the big “bronze pots” from Bit Meas were in reality bronze drums. Let us now take a closer look at the distribution of drums along the Mekong River and its tributaries216. The sites of Prohear, Bit Meas and Phu Chanh in Binh Duong province about 140 km east-southeast away217, appears like a bridge between the middle Mekong River to the bay of Vung Tau. Another recently discovered drum from Prek Pouy in Kampong Cham province also falls into this network, which is partly traversed by the Vam Co Tay and Vam Co Dong Rivers. Unfortunately, only a tympanum fragment remains from the drum at Prek Pouy. Its decoration shows characteristics of a Heger

The bronze drum network

206 Guizhou Sheng Bigie diqu shehuikexue lianhe hui (ed.) 2003, 8. The English translation “a big metal ware on the head of the dead” (p. 8) is a bit ambigouos and means the skull was found inside the drum exactly like in Prohear (p. 11) or in Guizhou Sheng Wenwu kaogu yanjiusuo (ed.) 2008, 7,8, 476: “…the deads’ heads were put into cauldron or drums…”. 207 Some general information about lead isotope analyses of bronzes from Village 10.8 was given at the conference at 15th August, 2009 in Phnom Penh. 208 Phạm Huy Thông / Phạm Minh Huyền / Nguyễn Văn Hảo / Lại Văn Tới (eds.) 1990. 209 Wenshan 2004; Yunnan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology et al. 2007. 210 Guangxi 1991. 211 Guizhou Provincial Museum 1986, 2003. 212 A. Calò 2008, 216. 213 A. Calò 2008, 215-217.


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
I drum of the Dong Son variant, but more cannot be specified (ill. 67). E. Nitta interpreted the distribution of bronze drums along the Mekong as “status markers and prestige goods buried with groups in control of early exchange networks”, because the drums seemed to relate to “strategic points along the river where geographic features (rapids, waterfalls, river mouths) interrupt river transport”218. What does “strategic points” mean. Are they traffic junctions, control stations, fords, boat landings, or points for trade or conflicts? In any case, one would expect not only an isolated bronze drum at such places, but many remains from busy life and umpteen dead on settlements or cemeteries. Perhaps the bronze drums at these sites had another meaning than as “buried prestige goods”. Prohear or Bit Meas do not fit in this hypothesis of “strategic points along the river”. We will see a little bit later what is behind all this …

214 Phạm Minh Huyền 2005; Phạm Đức Mạnh 2005, 45-47. 215 A.J. Bernet Kempers 1988; M. Jirawattana 2003; Nguyễn Văn Huyên / Hoàng Vinh / Phạm Minh Huyền / Trịnh Sinh 1989; S. Hirayama 2006; M. Nishimura 2008; A. Calò 2009. 216 E. Nitta 2005. 217 Bui Chi Hoang 2008. 218 E. Nitta 2005, 125. 219 The Bassac is the southernmost estuary of the Mekong and at present called by the Vietnamese Song Hau. Currently, the Transbassac includes the six southernmost provinces in Vietnam. Certainly, An Giang province with the famous trade center Oc Eo, also belongs in this region. 220 L. Malleret 1962, pl. V, no 831. 221 Ibidem, pl. XXXV-XXXVI. 222 P.-Y. Manguin 2004, 291, 293.

3 Prohear’s competition: the gold treasures from the Transbassac region
Some of the almost 100 gold-silver objects from the excavation in Prohear are similar to the Transbassac collection published by Louis Malleret, a French archaeologist, who bought this rich collection in different villages in the southernmost provinces of Vietnam between 1942 and 1945219. There are several analogies with Prohear, including small earrings with a thickened central section220 or the small segmented split ring from burial 14 (ill. 68:4)221. Similarities between Prohear and Oc Eo sites could mean that some objects in the Transbassac collection are earlier than assumed, and were made and buried at the latest during the 1st century AD. Otherwise it is certainly possible that goldsmiths made the same types of jewelry over many generations, because these products did not fall out of fashion. It is not known if the objects from the Oc Eo area were found in burials or in another context. Only a few burials are known from this region, such as a jar burial from the Oc Eo site that belongs to the 1st to the 3rd century AD and contained gold foil and carnelian beads222. Malleret reports in his major publication about the Funan

Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
culture in the Mekong Delta, that his museum collection brought together a total of 1311 gold objects with a weight of 1120 grams. He estimates that all of the gold he saw in the Transbassac area weighed a total of two kilograms. In his writings, Malleret also refers to the biggest prehistoric gold treasure ever found in this region. On the 6th of August 1945 at a spot in Oc Eo, gold objects of an overall weight of 453 grams were found, including one ingot of 378 grams. This points toward a later date for the cache, most likely from the middle of the 1st millennium AD223. Other sites rich in gold artifacts have also been discovered in the last twenty years, such as Go Thap in Dong Thap province. In the 1990s some hundred small gold plaques and several gold finger rings were found in so-called ‘graves’224. Without a doubt, scholars who study early gold in mainland Southeast Asia owe Malleret a great debt. His excellent observations and in-depth considerations are actually a rich source of information, with fascinating hints for our interpretation of the gold-silver ornaments from Prohear. Therefore, we should consider some of his meaningful notes. First, Malleret suggested that the different art styles of the gold jewelry point to the fact that the artifacts belonged to several periods. However, he emphasized how well-preserved all gold ornaments of the Transbassac area were. For this reason, he assumed that the artifacts, in spite of their different periods, were buried in the ground because of a sudden emergency at the end of the Oc Eo era (7th century AD). This would mean that most of these gold finds were typical hoards. For stylistic reasons, Malleret made a distinction between imported gold ornaments and local objects that should have been produced by goldsmiths in the Transbassac region. Evidence for local gold processing was excavated at Oc Eo in 1944, including waste, semi-finished products, and a workshop. The aforementioned gold ingot can have been used as currency as well as imported raw material225. Further indications for a local production of gold jewelry may have been discovered in 2002 at the Go Thap site in Dong Thap province; however, it is still awaiting analysis226. There are clear differences in the dating and varieties of precious metal objects from Prohear and the Transbassac area. Additionally, it seems that in the early Iron Age cemetery, silver and high-silver


223 L. Malleret 1962, 3-4. 224 Le Thi Lien 2005, 149-150; 2006, 233. 225 L. Malleret 1962, 4-5: “Nous possédons aussi des outils d’orfèvre, des récipients que nous croyons des creusets avec alvéole peut-être pour un bouton de coupellation, des pierres de touche, des lingots, des chutes d’atelier et des bijoux inachevés…”. 226 Le Thi Lien 2006, 237.


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
containing alloys play an important role, but in the later hoards in the Transbassac region, silver was reserved for coins227.

227 L. Malleret 1962, 7, 140-141. 228 J.N. Miksic 1994, 13; E.C. Bunker / D. A.J. Latchford 2008. 229 S.S. Fehrenbach 2009, 29. 230 To get an impression of an average selection of grave offerings with precious metals at burial sites of the same period here three typical examples: at Lai Nghi, central Vietnam, 102 gold beads and 4 gold earrings were found in 63 burials (A. Reinecke / Nguyen Thi Thanh Luyen 2009, 61). At Noen U-Loke, northeast Thailand, 100 gold beads, 2 silvergold earcoils, and from silver 1 bangle, 2 finger rings, a toe ring and a strip were discovered in 125 burials (N.J. Chang 2007, 413; S. Talbot 2007, 323-324). And at Giong Ca Vo in the bay of Vung Tau about 66 beads, one finger ring and some small gold fragments were discovered in about 25 of 356 burials, that means, more the 325 burials had none gold offerings (Dang Van Thang / Vu Quoc Hien 1997, 33; Đặng Văn Thắng et al. 1998, 151).

4 Gold and silver before Oc Eo
It seems clear that the majority of gold objects discovered in the Transbassac area belong to the ‘Funan period’ of the 2nd to 7th century AD, but all the gold-silver ornaments from Prohear are dated in the period before and were probably buried by the 1st century AD at the latest. Comparing Prohear with other sites before the 1st century AD highlights its special position. Similar gold rich cemeteries are known, but, like Bit Meas, are looted, unexcavated, or have not been published by archaeologists228. Almost all known archaeological sites of the BC era are poorer in gold-silver offerings. At Vat Komnou we know of only a few small gold objects (gold leaf and beads)229 and there was no gold or silver in the graves at Village 10.8. The burial site of Go O Chua is rich in pottery, but with only about 50 stone or glass beads and ornaments and not one single small gold bead230.

Gold masks and other items from Giong Lon
Apart from Prohear and Bit Meas, there is only one other recently discovered site in this region with amazing gold objects from the same time period (100 BC-AD 100) – this is the site of Giong Lon in southern Vietnam. During excavations in 2003 and 2005 more than 500 square meters with 72 inhumations and seven jar burials were uncovered. No skeletal remains were preserved, but ceramic vessels suggest the position of the dead. In Giong Lon three gold masks were found in three different graves (ill. 120). They are some of the earliest large gold objects in Southeast Asia. The Vietnamese excavators also listed among the offerings about 2000 ornaments, mostly different colored glass beads, 178 gold beads, and beads made from carnelian, rock crystal, garnet or clay. Some burials also contained bracelets made from nephrite, carnelian, or rock crystal, as well as two gold foil plaques, eight gold earrings of two different types, and a small spiral gold ring231. It is notable when reviewing the sump-

Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago


120 Gold mask (length 9.7 cm) excavated at the burial site of Giong Lon in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province in southern Vietnam (Photo courtesy National Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi)

tuous jewelry collection, that the site had sparse iron and bronze offerings. Only 22 iron weapons or tools and a single bronze Wuzhu coin were found together with one of the three gold masks in a grave uniquely equipped with a sword. Wuzhu coins were introduced by the Emperor Wudi (141-87 BC) during the Western Han period, and cast after 118 BC. A radiocarbon date and some ceramic types support the dating of the gold masks and of the majority of all finds to the heyday of Prohear (100/50 BC-AD 100)232. The physiognomy of the masks is clearly related to an image of a face on a one centimeter long gold tube ring that was very likely discovered in the Transbassac area233. Early gold masks from Java and Sulawesi show a distinctly different style and do not have a definite date, but we cannot yet rule out that they belong to this same tradition234.

The ribbed gold earrings
We should also discuss the ribbed earring from burial 46 in Prohear. The first four gold earrings of this type were found in 2002 at the Sa Huynh site of Lai Nghi (ill. 121)235. Six smaller specimens were also discovered within two burials at the cemetery of Giong Lon236. In 2007, archaeologists from the Memot Centre in Phnom Penh recovered a pair of these earrings from looted burials at Bit Meas (ill. 11). All of these earrings are smaller and lighter than that item from burial 46. Similar earrings of a heavier variant are known

231 Vũ Quốc Hiền / Trương Đắc Chiến / Lê Văn Chiến 2008a, 34-38; Vũ Quốc Hiền / Lê Văn Chiến 2007, 32-38. 232 A. Reinecke / Nguyen Thi Thanh Luyen 2009. 233 The dating and site of the tube ring are unclear. Most likely it belongs to a southern Vietnamese complex from the 1st to 3rd century AD. See L. Malleret 1962, 23-24, 120-121, pl. XIII. 234 J.N. Miksic 1990, 55-57. 235 A. Reinecke 2009a, 27. 236 A. Reinecke / Nguyen Thi Thanh Luyen 2009, 63; Vũ Quốc Hiền / Trương Đắc Chiến / Lê Văn Chiến 2008a, 24, 37.


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago

121 Four gold earrings, amongst beads made from glass, carnelian, agate, and gold are offerings from jar burial 7 of Lai Nghi in Quang Nam province, Central Vietnam (Photo: A. Reinecke)

from the north coast of central Java, however their context and dating is not known237. Comparable earrings are also found in burials from Western Asia and Europe, although it is unlikely that such a widespread earring type shows a long-distance relationship in every case. However, within Southeast Asia the presence of the same earring type at four different contemporary cemeteries is hardly pure chance. Especially the more so as Lai Nghi and Giong Lon were very likely situated near important South China Sea trade ports.

237 L. Malleret 1962, pl. XX, right below; J.N. Miksic 1990, Group 11, 67-68. 238 A. Reid 1988, 96-100.

5 “They hold Chinese gold and silver in the highest regard”
Generally speaking, there are more known gold deposits from the Southeast Asian mainland than silver238. However if we follow the historical records, it seems that before the arrival of the Europeans

Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
in Cambodia in the 16th century, gold and silver was imported and not locally produced.


Chinese gold and silver
In contrast, in China local gold production seems to have begun as early as 1000 BC, based on the rich gold finds from Sanxingdui and Jinsha in Sichuan province239. Up to the middle of the 1st millennium BC, the Chinese character ‘jin’ as ‘metal’ radical was used for gold as well as silver, bronze or copper. Gold was not the major symbol of excellence, that was jade (see Chapter 4). It was not until the ‘Warring States period’ (475-221 BC) that gold was specified as yellow metal ‘huangjin’240. Until the Eastern Han period (25–220 AD), Yunnan was included in the list of important gold deposits in China241. Like gold, silver from Yunnan is also mentioned in Chinese records as a local product since the 1st century AD. By the end of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), “Yunnan had produced 2.5 million kilograms of silver, three quarters of China’s total output …”242. In the Han shu, the history of the Han dynasty (202 BC-AD 220), gold and silk are described as dispensable export wares of the Han Empire243. It is imaginable that the precious metals, bronze drums, and other bronze objects traveled together either from Yunnan along the Mekong River to southeast Cambodia, or they may have taken another route via the Red River to the Gulf of Tonkin, then passed by a sea route to Vung Tau, and finally up the Vam Co Tay River reaching the surroundings of the gold-rich sites of Bit Meas and Prohear. The ribbed gold wire earrings from Lai Nghi, Giong Lon, Bit Meas und Prohear may have followed this sea route (ill. 11, 68:7, 121). Certainly, we cannot compare the gold-silver jewelry from Prohear to the objects found in the super-rich burials of the Dian culture about 1450 km to the north. Only a few of the burials from the site of Lijiashan contain more bronze and gold offerings than discovered at Prohear244. We have already mentioned the rich deposits of gold and electrum in that region in chapter 8.4. It is hardly by chance that the burials of the Dian culture have such a variety of objects that they look like the window display of a jeweler or antique shop. Despite this assortment, we do not see clear parallels to the gold, silver, or bronze ornaments from Prohear245. Heger I bronze drums were also

239 Leisure and Cultural Service Department Hong Kong (ed.) 2007, 39. 240 E.C. Bunker 1993, 29; Xiang Zhonghua 2006, 4-5. 241 Xiang Zhonghua 2006, p. 7. 242 B. Yang 2004, 302. 243 Wang Gungwu 1998, 18. 244 Yunnan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology et al. 2007. 245 Hongkong Museums of History 2004.


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
found at the Lijiashan burial site, but their decoration is also not comparable with the drum motifs from Prohear. However, it would not be surprising if the sources of the metal ingots or finished products were found to be in southern China. Especially as we already have looked north to find parallels with both the bronze drum burial at the site of Kele in Guizhou province, and for the primary distribution area of Dong Son bronze drums in northern Vietnam.

Historical records about gold and silver in Cambodia
Let us now come back to the question about what the historical records tell us about gold or silver in Cambodia. In the early Chinese records about Funan, we can read the accounts of the Chinese envoys Kang Tai and Zhu Ying, who were received by the Funan emperor Fan Xun between 245 and 250 AD. They note that gold and silver played a role as currency246. The Nan Qi shu, written in the 6th century AD, informs us that “the inhabitants of Funan wore finger rings and bracelets cast in gold …”247. However, this does not mean the people of Funan used locally produced gold or silver at that time. Not until Zhou Daguan’s record of Cambodia from 1297 do we find that “They do not produce gold or silver in Cambodia, I believe, and so they hold Chinese gold and silver in the highest regard”248. He also mentioned the products that were exchanged for Chinese gold or silver. He writes, “Fine things including kingfisher feathers, elephant tusks, rhinoceros horns, and beeswax. Less refined things include rosewood, cardamom, gamboge, lac, and chaulmoogra oil”249. The trade of these products was also confirmed by Zhao Rugua (11701228), inspector of foreign trade in the Chinese province Fujian during the Song dynasty (960-1279). He notes that Cambodia imported – among other things – gold and silver and exported elephant’s tusks, gharu-wood, yellow wax, kingfisher’s feathers, dammar resin and gourd dammar, foreign oils, ginger peel, and other products250. Local gold resources and production is not mentioned in Cambodia until the arrival of the Europeans. Tomé Pires writes at the beginning of the 16th century, that “this country has gold”251. At the beginning of the 17th century Gabriel Quiroga de San Antonio knew of “renowned silver, gold, copper and tin mines”252. It is likely that these

246 Jin shu (compiled at the beginning of the 7th century AD) after P. Pelliot 1903, 254: “L‘ impot se paie en or, argent, perles, parfums”. 247 P. Pelliot 1903, 261: “Les habitants du Fou-nan fondent des bagues et des bracelets en or …”. 248 Zhou Daguan 1297/2007, 71. 249 Ibidem p. 69. 250 F. Hirth / W. W. Rockhill, eds., 1911/1996, 53. 251 B.-P. Groslier 2006, 110. 252 G.Q. de San Antonio 1608/1998, 6.

Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
local resources were becoming exploited more frequently from this time period253. The German ethnologist Adolf Bastian, who crossed Cambodia in 1863/1864, also mentions gold panning as well as mining at a location northwest of Battambang, near the Thai border254. Nevertheless, all these observations and accounts do not provide us with a real impression of the local gold production during these centuries. Apparently, not even the country’s own demands were satisfied with the local gold processing activities. In about 1570, Christoval de Jaque wrote “the most gold came from Laos”255. Frank Vincent learned that in 1871/72 the Cambodian goldsmiths manufactured gold locally, but also used gold and silver coins from Hue256. It is likely that until recent times the gold production in Cambodia could not compare with the gold production in central Vietnam, formerly Champa, then Cochinchina. The first European reports discuss the exceptional gold in this region257. Cochinchina is listed as a gold supplier in Japanese trade lists from the 17th century, however they imported silver from Batavia (Indonesia) and Manila (Philippines). During this same period Cambodia continued to export roughly the same natural and forest products as those discussed during the time of Zhou Daguan258. To summarize, nothing in the old records speaks to gold exploitation at any of the currently known 19 gold mines throughout Cambodia (Chapter 8.4; ill. 89).


The early ‘golden network’
The analyses and interpretation of the gold ornaments have only just started. The style and metal composition of every single object needs to be carefully investigated in order to demonstrate the origin of the metal. Additionally, the finished products will be examined to determine both the goldsmith’s manufacturing techniques, as well as information on local elements and traditions. During this investigation we will not focus our view only towards the southern Chinese region. This is because the published gold jewelry from the ‘Southern Barbarians’ of the Western Han Empire does not appear to be related in style and decoration to the finished gold ornaments of Prohear and southern Cambodia. These precious metal objects could have also been produced at many trade and workshop sites in different areas. One example are

253 T. Thon 2007, 168. 254 A. Bastian 1868, 38-39, 57; some other arguments for the possibility of using local alluvial gold resources by L. Malleret 1962, 6-7. 255 B.-P. Groslier 2006, 117. 256 F. Vincent 1873, 234 and 296. 257 See e.g. C. Borri 1633/2006, 107. 258 B.-P. Groslier 2006, 123; L. Tana 1998, 66, 76-77.


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
the parallels between the gold jewelry of the Transbassac region and the Island of Java as discussed by Malleret259. Although such a connection between Prohear and central Java is not definite, it can’t be wholly denied in view of the ribbed gold earring from burial 46 of Prohear260. During this early period both areas were well linked through shipping networks, as indicated by the numerous Dong Son drums in central Java261. Thus, in our future research, we can expect surprises in multiple directions, with links to both China and Indonesia. At the moment, it is difficult to say what role South Asia played in this network. Many gold ornaments are small simple objects similar to those that were widely distributed over large areas of Eastern Europe and Western Asia from the 3rd/2nd millennium BC262. The area between Georgia and Pakistan is rich with many gold deposits, some of which were exploited in ancient times263. However, within India there was a great demand for gold that may have prevented this gold from traveling all the way to Southeast Asia. The South Asian gold objects that have been published do not appear to compete with the wealth of gold from southern China during the pre-Christian era264. This may be due to a different status of fieldwork or a lack of publications, however we must note that in later periods South Asia was well known for importing rather than exporting gold265, despite the many South Asian gold mines or placer resources266. Gold was imported from Southeast Asia during the Gupta period (320-about 550 AD)267, but known gold tribute payments were made to Persia or China268. Thus, it appears that South Asia may have passed on jewelry making techniques, as well as motifs and shapes to Southeast Asia, but hardly the gold itself. Based on the finds from Prohear, we have concrete evidence for the beginning of the goldsmith handicraft in Southeast Asia. Almost all other early gold objects in Southeast Asia have come from undated and unknown sites269.

259 L. Malleret 1962, p. 28. 260 J.N. Miksic 1990, Group 11, S. 67-68. 261 A. Calò 2009, 103. 262 See e.g. M. Treister 1996; V. Sarianidi 1985. 263 T. Stöllner / I. Gambaschidze / A. Hauptmann 2008. 264 H.C. Bhardwaj 2000, esp. 74-76; A. Richter 2000, 20. 265 H.C. Bhardwaj 2000, 70-97, esp. 9495; N.P. Unni 2006, I: 228-237. 266 J. Marshall 1975, 619-620; H.C. Bhardwaj 2000, esp. 78-79, 85. 267 H.C. Bhardwaj 2000, 86. 268 F. Hirth /W.W. Rockhill, eds., 1911/1996, 111: gold was a tribute for Xuan Wu (500-515 AD), Emperor of the Chinese Wei Dynasty. 269 For Indonesia see J.N. Miksic 1990, 22; for South Vietnam see L. Malleret 1962.

6 Where did the precious stone beads come from?
We did not discover signs for glass or precious stone bead production in Prohear. So far, there has not yet been any early Iron Age bead production workshops discovered in the interior of southern

Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
Vietnam or Cambodia. It is likely that these objects were imported to Prohear, but from where did they come? For glass beads, we favor production workshops close to the coast in present-day southern Vietnam, as was discussed in chapter 8.5. Future glass analyses and fieldwork in this region will confirm or refute our hypothesis. Southeast Asian beads made from carnelian or agate are commonly assumed to come from a source in South Asia. However, the large number of these beads in Southeast Asia has put this assumption into doubt. Geochemical analysis of a small series of carnelian beads (from the sites of Ban Don Ta Phet and Noen U-Loke) and raw carnelian from one location in Thailand, and a few from India and Sri Lanka, noted differences in the chemical compositions of the objects. These results suggest that, “a complex multi-source origin including some local manufacture appears likely”270. Additional observations of beads from Noen U-Loke and Non Muang Kao may support the hypothesis of a Southeast Asian production center that included modification and recycling271. In order to have compelling evidence for local stone bead production, we need the luck of finding the remains of a settlement with a workshop, similar to those found at Khao Sam Kaeo, on the east coast of Thai-Malay Peninsula272. However, we have not yet had such fortune in central or southern Vietnam, because settlements dating to the Sa Huynh or Pre-Funan culture are few and far between. A systematic examination of all early Iron Age beads found in this area would bring amazing insights to light.


Some arguments for local precious stone bead-making
In the 1st century BC, carnelian beads are fairly common artifacts at burial sites in this region, but beads made from agate or rock crystal are rarer. The distribution of some recently discovered artifacts suggests that along the present-day Vietnamese coast, bead-making workshops similar to those on the Thai-Malay Peninsula (Khuan Luk Pad, Khao Sam Kaeo) very likely existed273. During the first interaction phase, itinerant Indian craftsmen may have played an important role in the expansion of bead workshops, as discussed by B. Bellina274. However this may not have happened for a long period or everywhere within Southeast Asia.
270 R. Theunissen / P. Grave / G. Bailey 2000, 85, 101-102. 271 R. Theunissen 2007. 272 B. Bellina / P. Silapanth 2006, 388-389. 273 Ibidem. 274 B. Bellina 2007, 54.


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
What is certain is that hard-stone bead making workshops along the coast had to import the raw stone material from either the interior of Southeast Asia, South Asia or farther afield. We’ll come back to this matter to the end of this chapter. During the last few centuries BC in central Vietnam, the craftsmen created local stone ornaments, different from those made by Indian craftsmen. Amongst these local ornaments are the three pointed earrings (lingling-o) such as those from Giong Ca Vo made from carnelian275 or those from Bien Ho in Gia Lai province, made from rock crystal276. Since the 4th century BC, stone-craftsmen in central Vietnam were able to make these earrings out of nephrite. They also have a long tradition in making beads and other nephrite objects that goes back at least to the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. These craftsmen did not need a century-long apprenticeship from an itinerant Indian craftsman to create these objects. From many sites along the coast of the South China Sea we find indications for local bead manufacturing about 2000 years ago. We will discuss only two examples from the Pre-Funan and Sa Huynh culture areas. In 2005 at Giong Lon near Vung Tau, Vietnamese archaeologists found a beautiful polished globular carnelian bead of 2.0 cm in diameter in a burial277. As usual, the bead was perforated by being drilled from both sides. However, the bead-maker was not at the top of his form. Both drill holes did not meet each other in the center, however the craftsman was an inveterate fellow. So he drilled the bead again and again. After three more failed attempts he decided to stop. It was not possible to string this bead, but it was buried with the dead nonetheless! If we travel 700 km to the north we have a similar situation. During the German-Vietnamese excavations of the Sa Huynh cemetery Lai Nghi near Hoi An in 2002-2004, the richly equipped jar burial 31 was discovered with many carnelian beads including a lion bead. Besides this masterpiece, an unfinished carnelian bead was uncovered that was only ground to a flat surface on one side. Then the bead-maker may have stopped his work because the drill holes from both sides were not good enough to pass the quality check. Another bead has a finished surface, but the drill holes did not meet as with the bead from Giong Lon. It is hard to believe that such junk was

275 Đặng Văn Thắng et al. 1998, 662, ill. 39. 276 Nguyễn Khắc Sử 1995, 10. 277 Vũ Quốc Hiền / Trương Đắc Chiến / Lê Văn Chiến 2008, 35.

Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
shipped from India or other far distant places, and for an itinerant Indian craftsman it would be a shame and time to go home.


Hard-stone beads – individual and regional distinctions
Distribution and frequency of hard-stone beads also provide indicators for their origin. To examine this in more detail we will quickly look at some 2000-year-old ‘bead collections’ from different sites. Certainly, the total number and numerical proportion of beads differs from site to site. There was also no uniformity in the arrangement of beads within individual jewelry pieces, but instead creativity and individualism in unlimited combinations. This becomes completely clear if one looks at the different beautiful compositions of jewelry in burials from Lai Nghi; one of the most bead-rich jar burial sites of the early Iron Age in Southeast Asia. There were also great differences between burial sites in neighboring areas. To clarify this example we will consider collections from two of the largest burial complexes of the last two centuries BC, which were recently discovered along the coast in central Vietnam. From Lai Nghi there are 1391 hard-stone beads from 63 burials including 1136 from carnelian, 83 from garnet, 61 from rock crystal, 56 from nephrite, and 55 from agate (ill. 121). Con Rang and Con Dai are two jar burial sites very close to one another and situated only 5 km west of the northwest corner of Hue’s citadel. There were 278 burials, more than four times as many burials at these sites as compared with Lai Nghi, but only 346 precious stone beads. Interestingly, all were made from carnelian. What a startling contrast between two sites in the same region, both near the coast, both from the same culture, and from the same period! Did the early Iron Age people of Con Rang only have access to carnelian? Whether more carnelian, agate, garnet or other kinds of hard stone beads are found at a site depends on many different factors. This includes distance to the raw materials, to the craftsmen, to the trade routes, and also to cultural-regional preferences, fashion trends and, finally, funeral practices. At the moment, such a ‘package of factors’ makes it difficult to explain the differences in the hard stone beads throughout Southeast Asia during the early Iron Age. However, something is already recognizable:


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago

278 See e.g. Hung Hsiao-Chun et al. 2007, 19746. 279 Garnets are known from Vinh Phuc, Nghe An, Yen Bai in north Vietnam and in the highlands of central Vietnam (Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Lam Dong provinces). These are mostly small-scale deposits of low quality from the present point of view, but good enough for making garnet beads 2000 years ago (pers. comm. Lê Thị Hương, Hanoi University, on 28th August 2009). 280 R. Theunissen 2007, 362. 281 Head of the Department for Precious Stone Research at the Johannes GutenbergUniversität Mainz. 282 The name is a derivative of Spessart in Bavaria, Germany; for garnet varieties and their historical background see J. Ogden 1982, 97-99.

Nephrite was popular in Southeast Asia since the Neolithic period278. However it seems that in some areas of Cambodia and Vietnam before the 2nd century BC, garnet also plays a preferred role. Garnet resources are known in northern Vietnam279, and their existence in Cambodia is also quite likely (see below). At the end of the 2nd century BC, a great variety of shapes and types of stone were available and en vogue. The stronger the wish for bigger ornaments with more complex shapes and gaudy colors, the more garnet went out of fashion. In northeastern Thailand garnet seems unavailable or not popular. At the two early Iron Age cemeteries, Noen U-Loke and Non Muang Kao, the most common material for hard stone beads is agate, less popular is carnelian; garnet beads were not discovered280. In Cambodia and Vietnam, garnet was never used to make larger objects like earrings, bracelets, or long-tubular beads. However, these items were frequently made from nephrite, carnelian, rock crystal, as well as agate. The reason seems clear, as garnets came from metamorphic formations that had suffered an extreme mechanical load. Therefore, they are usually small and fractured and are not a good raw material for ornaments. In contrast, nephrite, agate, and other crypto-crystalline quartz varieties are very tough, and therefore a better material for larger ornaments. Following the work of Wolfgang Hofmeister (Mainz)281, the garnets from Prohear and Go O Chua and some other sites in this region are spessartine, which is a nesosilicate, maganese aluminum garnet species282. This garnet variety is dark purple in color and when examined before a source of light it shows an orange-colored shade caused by manganese. The dark color of many garnet beads in Southeast Asia is indicative of their high iron content. Garnet is widespread and the raw garnet for the beads from Prohear very likely came from river sand placer deposits. This means that garnet may not have had to travel as far to southeast Cambodia as other hard stone varieties.

From nephrite to garnet

Carnelian and agate
At the end of the 2nd century BC, carnelian became the most frequently used hard stone for beads in the areas near the South China Sea. Carnelian beads dominate the bead assemblages at the large

Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
cemeteries of Giong Ca Vo, and Giong Lon or Hoa Diem in the south, to Lai Nghi or Con Rang/Con Dai in central Vietnam. The further one goes into the interior, the more this dominance is lost. At Phu Hoa, Go O Chua, or Prohear garnet beads predominate. This indicates different origins, suppliers, or trade routes for these stone varieties. However it is not an evidence that all carnelian beads, or even all raw materials, had to come from South Asia. A decade ago, deposits of agate or carnelian, both chalcedony varieties, were not known in Vietnam or Cambodia despite the given geologic conditions. The reason seems simple, as these hard stones play a minor role in the modern economy. Meanwhile, agate deposits have been found in Vietnam near Loc Ninh in Binh Phuoc province283, only 110 km to the east of Prohear. This region has similar surprises in store, as Bérénice Bellina has described for Java, Sumatra and Thailand284. It may only be a matter of time that carnelian deposits will also be discovered in Vietnam. This is suggested by new discoveries of large amounts of chalcedonies in Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Lak and Dak Nong provinces, some of which weigh several tons285. The quest for the origin of Southeast Asian hard stone beads is complicated by some other reasons. In archaeology, often the opinion exists that rare beads have their original production center in an area where these beads were at the most discovered. This can sometimes lead in the wrong direction. As an example, we could argue that the origin of all lion beads must be in the area of Hepu in Guangxi in southern China, because they have published the most lion beads. However, this bead type is widespread even to Gandhara in Pakistan, with some differences in surface treatment, style, and material286. This matter becomes even more confused when we think about how these objects travel across a landscape. So, for example, beads can travel from Hepu to central Vietnam, although they were originally produced somewhere in South Asia. In conclusion, there are several alternatives to the previously held assumptions that all hard stone beads were imported from South Asia. Specialists from South Asia could have expanded their bead making workshops along the coast of Southeast Asia. At first, these may have been itinerant craftsmen who were Indian. However, we can wonder how long it takes an itinerant bead-maker to produce


283 Pham Van Long / G. Giuliani / V. Garnier / D. Ohnenstit 2004. 284 B. Bellina 2007, 30-31. 285 Pers. comm. Lê Thị Hương on 28th August 2009. 286 C.J. Frape published some lion beads which may have been found in north Vietnam and comments: “Created using sculpting method strongly reminiscent of, and evidently influenced by, the Han ‘8-cut’ technique, they are nevertheless, in their more angular, stylized presentation, clearly distinguishable from their Chinese counterparts” (C.J. Frape, ed., 2000, 90). For Vietnam und Guangxi s. A. Reinecke 2009a, 47-48; for Taxila in north Pakistan s. H.C. Beck 1941, 55, pl. VII; for India see M. Jyotsna 2000, 44-45, and S. B. Deo 2000, 84-85.


Chapter 11: Prohear’s contacts more than 2000 years ago
a rival? Hardly longer than one generation, as we can argue that a present-day professional training takes no longer than three years up to ten years for the highest quality. It is quite possible that the long tradition of bead-making was as well protected in India as silk production was in China. But it may have been difficult for itinerant bead-makers to settle down abroad, where they would want to go into partnerships with local partners, women, and craftsmen with a rich tradition in stone-working, who they would want to keep the secret of their techniques. Finally, every protected secret was disclosed over time; even the secret of the much more complex silk production was eventually revealed.


Chapter 12: Prohear’s historical background – the comeback of a discarded idea?
In Prohear there are local cultural characteristics that have great depth, such as burial rituals, inhumations, head orientation, wrapping the dead with a mat and including a last meal, the arrangement of offerings and ceramics in the burial, and the pottery types. There are also non-local phenomena in the burials, such as placing a head in a bronze drum, covering a face with a bronze bowl or disc, and stone pestles or a bell between the thighs. There are also non-local offerings primarily of the last century BC, such as imported bronze drums, bowls, gold-silver objects, and beads. Some of these artifacts, especially the bronze objects, may have come from the ‘Southern barbarians’ of the Han Empire, but for others we do not yet know their origins due to lack of certain parallels.

Prohear and the waves of change
Between the local traditions with their deep roots in the early 1st millennium BC, and the ‘new foreign elements’ of the last two centuries BC, we argue for a cultural break. This wave of influence, let’s call it the ‘first wave’, may have been caused by an immigration of foreigners to the southern half of Cambodia and present-day southern Vietnam, which resulted in a new head orientation in the burials, and in new trends in the local pottery tradition. In some places it may have started around 250 BC (Go O Chua). In other areas, it may have begun some generations later around 200 BC (Vat Komnou), and in Prohear it might not have begun until 150/100 BC. This is the beginning of mortuary phase II at Prohear. It should not be astonishing that the newly established ceramic forms apparently resisted the next ‘second wave’ of influence that arrived at Prohear around 100/50 BC. Generally, locally produced simple pottery forms do not change with every ‘new wave’. Based on the pottery from Prohear we see a clear relationship with Vat Komnou/Angkor Borei, with Go O Chua, and with other sites of the 2nd/1st century BC near the bay of Vung Tau. These relations are directed more to the south than to the north. Is the south


Chapter 12: Prohear’s historical background
the direction from which the ‘first wave’ of foreign influence came? Miriam T. Stark received the same impression based on the ceramics found at Angkor Borei. She argues that the Mekong Delta polities were focused more southwards toward the South China Sea network until around 400 AD287. This seems neither astonishing nor illogical, however, there are still huge gaps to the north and northwest as cemeteries or prehistoric sites from this same period have not yet been discovered. From Prohear, Angkor Borei, or Village 10.8 there is a broad jump of about 300 km, to the cemeteries in northwest Cambodia (Phum Snay, Prey Khmeng, Phum Krasang Thmei). These sites all have their main mortuary phases later then the sites in the south. Besides, the ceramic complexes from these sites have not been well published yet, thus we are not able to properly compare them with the ceramics found in the south. The southern influence seems to weaken at about 100 BC, and is later clearly obscured by the stronger relationship with sites to the north. We must remember the ‘buffalo bracelets’ which provide striking evidence for the relationship between mortuary phase IIb at Prohear and the finds of the 1st century BC/1st century AD at Phum Snay (see Chapter 7.4). We also argue that all bronze objects came from the north, not just the drums, bell, and bowl, but also the bracelets, earrings, and other bronze items. We have already explained why we think that iron came as ingots from the north to the blacksmiths in Prohear (see Chapter 5). We also discussed that some of the objects that may have originated in the north, such as the bronze drums and ribbed gold earrings, traveled to Prohear by the Vam Co Tay River from the bay of Vung Tau (see Chapter 11.5). However, this must be proven with more evidence!

The Prohear-Kele connection
Let’s come back to the Kele site in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou. Despite the 1740 km distance between Kele and Prohear, in the 1st century BC both areas appear to have been connected with one another. Kele is situated in an area with unbelievably rich gold, silver, and electrum resources (Chapter 8.4). Kele also belongs to the northern distribution network of bronze drums (Chapter 11.2). At present, Kele is the only site besides Prohear with the same unusual

287 M.T. Stark 2006, 100.

Chapter 12: Prohear’s historical background
funeral custom of burying the head in a bronze drum (Chapter 4). We also know of a bronze disc with a central cone from the Kele cemetery, similar to the ornament disc from Village 10.8 and grave 47 at Prohear (Chapter 11.1). The Yelang culture from Kele has many bronze objects with long buffalo horns that are reminiscent of the bracelets from Prohear and Phum Snay288. This is a motif that we also find in the Dian culture in Yunnan289. The Yelang is one of the most important groups of the ‘Southern or Southwestern Barbarians’ of the Western Han Empire during the 2nd century BC besides the Dian people in Yunnan and Nanyue in present-day northern Vietnam, Guangxi and Guangdong290. However, their characteristics are still little known in Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, Prohear is not the only site with clear relationships to the Yelang culture. Another example is a group of three recently published swords of the Kele type from Ba Thuoc district in Thanh Hoa province291. A better knowledge of this little investigated culture will enable more attention to their special artifacts south of Yelang in the areas of the Dong Son, Sa Huynh or Pre-Funan culture.


Collaborate, die, or flee!
Western Han Emperor Wudi (141-87 BC) used every possibility to expand his reach and power to the south and southwest. A special aspect of Wudi’s efforts was his attempt to establish in 122 BC the socalled Southwest Silk Road, a Han-controlled land route through the area of the southwestern barbarians to the land of Shendu (India)292. Although Wudi’s ‘road-efforts’ failed, the southwest was dramatically changed. The Yelang people felt this aggressive policy at the end of the 2nd century BC. Some federated and collaborated with Han China against the Dian in 109 BC. Chieftains who were willing to surrender were accepted as client-kings and were rewarded with a gold seal, like the rulers of Yelang and Dian. The king of Dian died at the beginning of the 1st century BC and took his seal to his burial at Shizhaishan where it was excavated in 1955. Neither the chiefs of Yelang nor of Dian were unified in their position for or against the Western Han Empire. Not all of the elite of the Yelang, Dian, and their neighboring tribes bowed to the Western Han Chinese claim of power. There were certainly strong fallouts,

288 Guizhou Sheng Bigie diqu shehuikexue lianhe hui (ed.) 2003, 43. T. Pang 1998, 172, ill. 194. 289 J. Rawson 1983, 179. 290 B. Watson 1968, 290. A general insight by B. Yang 2009 and R.S. Wicks 1992, 33-41. 291 Hoàng Xuân Chinh / Hoàng Đình Long / Hoàng Văn Thông 2008, 239-240. 292 B. Yang 2004, 282.


Chapter 12: Prohear’s historical background
many owing to the loss of ground and positions, a radical break from tradition, and invasion by Han Chinese settlers. Opponents of the Chinese and their elite collaborators were killed293. Those who chose to escape had few choices but to move south, along an established route through Laos or northern Vietnam to Cambodia294. We can guess that this re-location to the south was a process over a number of generations and from different areas. This may explain how more and more finds were spread across Southeast Asia during the 2nd/1st century BC, with an intensity that no one foresaw ten years ago295. Now we are confronted with foreign objects, such as at Prohear, where they are mixed with local artifacts.

Who lived and died in Prohear?
Let’s remember again that horses were pictured on two gold finger rings. Pigs, buffalo, and tigers fit well into the everyday life in the tropics, but horses are actually strange in this region. There is no indication that horses were in the ‘long forest’ of Prey Veng 2000 years ago, or that the local early Iron Age people rode on horses to their paddy fields. But for an elite person who came from the north with their bronze drums, a horse motif makes sense. In Yunnan, local husbandry provided horses for transportation and war296. They were found in the center of battles alongside tigers, buffaloes, and buffalohorned men297 as demonstrated in the figures on a drum-shaped cowrie container298. A horseman was at that time not a symbol for peaceful farming or ‘low-impact traveling’, but for war, struggle, hunting, and power. Thus, the Dian horsemen are seen as a “selective group of people in the society” (ill. 122)299. Even 200 years later in the 3rd century, horses were apparently so unique here, that the first Indian envoy brought four horses as a special present from his king to the ruler of Funan300. It is also notable that both horses on the gold finger rings from Prohear do not have a saddle! Is this only because it is a simplified vignette? The motif is of a stick figure without any recognizable clothing or weapons. Or do we have to attach serious value to this detail and assume that the gold ring really depicts a rider without a saddle? If so, we could be confronted with the symbol of a rider of a nomadic minority from the neighborhood of the Dian community301. Or it

293 B. Watson 1968, 295. 294 B. Yang 2004, 287-288. 295 I. Keiji 1998. 296 B. Yang 2004, 294-296. 297 A. Calò 2008, 213-222. 298 T. Chiou-Peng 2008. 299 T. Chiou-Peng 2008, 230. 300 M. Vickery 2004, 108. 301 B. Watson 1968, 290.

Chapter 12: Prohear’s historical background


122 Armored horseman in a battle scene on top of cowrie container in the shape of a classical Heger-I bronze drum, excavated in burial M6 of Shizhaishan site in 1956, about 3rd century BC (Photo: A. Reinecke)

could be an enduring memory of the nomadic origins of the ‘southwestern people’ in the Yunnan-Dian-Guizhou area. Who were the people who found their final resting place in the Iron Age cemeteries of Prohear and Bit Meas? Is it possible that both places are parts of a larger group of burial sites that contain the burials of both locals and expatriates from Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi and Giao Chi? Did these people flee from the growing danger of Han Chinese expansion between the end of the 2nd century BC until 43 AD? This is the time between when the Yelang lost their independence and when the Trung sisters, leaders of the Nanyue people in the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam, died in the last great fight, along with the hope of their tribes. This time span from the end of the Yelang to the end of Nanyue’s independence coincides exactly with mortuary period II a and II b at Prohear! Why did they come to the area around Prohear and Bit Meas? Was this region in any way more safe, hospitable, and welcoming than areas in central Vietnam occupied by the Sa Huynh people? Were they connected to people buried at the Phu Chanh cemetery about 140 km to the east, and home to the site with strange bronze drum burials?


Chapter 12: Prohear’s historical background
Perhaps they were also connected to people at other undiscovered port and trade sites near the ‘gold-mask-site’ of Giong Lon in the bay of Vung Tau. Were the elites from the north welcomed in the south as advisors on foreign policy, strategy, or weaponry? Was the ‘long forest’ of Prey Veng at that time not a jungle, but the surroundings of a political center and a magnet for people such as foreign elites? A place where refugees could ask for protection and a new future? A ‘Yue-Village’ within ‘eyeshot’ of Funan-City? You may think there are too many questions without any answers! A framework for these puzzling questions is discussed below. First we should mention that while our eyes are mainly directed to the north, we do not forget indications for relationships with the gold-rich areas of Indonesia or even to Bactria in Western Asia (Chapter 11.5). On the one hand these are mostly vague clues, but on the other hand it seems very logical that an immigrated elite got their jewelry and exotic goods from different places. However, we cannot exclude that the Yelang and Dian people get ideas or goods from Bactria via the overland route through northern India before some refugees headed to their exile in the south.

302 G. Coedès 1966, 60; 1968, 36-37. The information of G. Coedès, the distance between Oc Eo and Ba Phnom is 200 km or 120 miles and would therefore correspond to the 500 li mentioned in the Chinese records, has apparently contributed to much confusion. Actually, the distance is about 115 km. This is not a disproof of G. Coedès’ thesis, that the early capital of Funan should be sougth at the foot of Ba Phnom, but more an argument against the consensus opinion that Oc Eo would be the historical starting point for the Chinese observations. This is an absolutely unproved thesis. 303 H. Loofs-Wissowa 1991: “We might thus imagine the coming and going of embassies or missions from tribal chiefs in various parts of Southeast Asia who through the obtaining of a drum would seek to become kings in the then accepted sense of the term and thus be integrated into a wider politico-religious system….” or “… the drums were the regalia of local chiefs

Where was the capital and ‘main port’ of Funan?
Let’s return to the unanswered questions. If we bring back, after half a century, the unfashionable theory of the French scholar George Coedès, then we would have to locate the capital of the early Funan polity, the legendary ‘Temu’, near the mountain of Ba Phnom in Prey Veng province302. Now, suddenly the richness and the many mysterious artifacts from Bit Meas and Prohear get a striking historical background. The presence of these unusual finds is explained because both sites are situated only 30-35 km northeast from Ba Phnom. With Coedès’ thesis as a backdrop, the large number of bronze drums from Prohear and probably from Bit Meas makes sense, because we agree with H. Loofs-Wissowa’s interpretation of bronze drums as ‘symbols of power’ or ‘regalia of local chiefs’303. The excavation at Oc Eo in 1944, and the concentration of archaeological research over many years at Angkor Borei, contributes exciting new facts to the historical relevance of both these sites. Undoubtedly, Oc Eo was a center of workshops and long distance trade with the west. Nevertheless, for 60 years it has remained a part of scholarly

Chapter 12: Prohear’s historical background
opinion that it was the ‘major port of Funan’, without critical distance to the scattered discoveries in many southern Vietnamese provinces over almost 500-700 years, and their classification under the label ‘Oc Eo’. How much of this large collection is really from Oc Eo before the 3rd century AD, and why do we have only such a small number of finds with Chinese origin? Very likely, Oc Eo was never situated directly at the coast of the bay of Rach Gia, and it remains to be seen if there was at any time a port by which the Chinese envoys could enter the Funan polity. It is also curious that there are no records mentioning a port in the bay of Rach Gia, during or after Funan. Therefore, the distance of 500 li or 200 km from the sea to the capital of Funan, as estimated by Chinese envoys, recorded in the 6th century, and compiled in the 7th century304, cannot be seen from Oc Eo site. In view of such inconsistencies we also have to challenge the interpretation of Angkor Borei as the first capital of the Funan polity. So far the puzzle of the early Funan polity as composed from archaeological data does not match the Chinese records. These discrepancies are not new. Charles W. Higham is correct in stating that the ‘Chinese mile’, the li, changed over time. He is careful with his interpretation of Angkor Borei, noting that in that era the distance of the li varied more than before305. However, even if we use the li with the shortest of all distances found in the historical records from the time in question, then we have a minimum distance of 184 km from the port to the capital306. This does not correspond with the 83 km from Oc Eo to Angkor Borei307.


In conclusion
The distance is only one example of how problematic the popular archaeological interpretation about Oc Eo and Angkor Borei actually is, as it does not convincingly match the historical context. But this whole bundle of problems is another exciting story that goes far beyond our intention in this book about Prohear. For that, historical records and archaeological artifacts must undergo a broad re-examination. In spite of the wealth found in the burials at Prohear we are careful with superlatives for this site in view of so many new archaeo-

who asked for these … to become part of a network of polities…” (1991, 47). Therefore, we reject firmly the interpretation that bronze drums are normal ‘trade-goods’ as this does not match with the records (see chapter 7.2). 304 M. Vickery 2004, 131. 305 “Since the lenght of a li varied with time, estimating the distance is not easy but the actual capital was probably the site of Angkor Borei” (C. Higham 2001, 25). 306 After A. Schinz 1996, 421: between 369-532 meters. 307 Even if we would accept that a ‘major port’ was located near Oc Eo, it seems very normal that a large polity like Funan had more than one trade center near the coast. P. Pelliot suggested the mouth of the Mekong as a gateway for the Chinese envoys (1903, 262-263). From here, as well as from the mouth of the Vam Co Tay River or from a port in Vung Tau bay near the site with the gold masks, the travelers have direct access to water routes, that did


Chapter 12: Prohear’s historical background
logical discoveries happening every year in Cambodia and southern Vietnam. It is our hope that similar sites will join the cemetery from Prohear in the next few years, despite problems with looting. We also know that some of our interpretations urgently need more solid evidence, but “without speculation there is no good and original observation”308. Should we succeed in drawing archaeological attention to the under-investigated area of Prey Veng province, as well as developing alternatives to the present discussion on the early history of Funan, then our speculation is justified. At present, the burial site of Prohear and its artifacts seem amazing, but how ‘special’ Prohear really was in the past, that only additional field research and excavations in this region will prove.

not require the digging of a canal which would link them to Ba Phom over a distance of exactly 200 km. 308 Charles R. Darwin in his letter to A.R. Wallace from 22nd Decembre 1857.

123 Prey Veng in the golden luster of the evening sun (Photo: A. Reinecke)


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Bold numbers denote figures Afghanistan 86 agate bead see beads, agate agate deposit see deposit animals / animal remains 102, 106, 124, 125126 boar 28 buffalo 28, 38, 57, 89-90, 125-126, 168 chicken 126 crocodile 126 elephant 28, 156 fish 48, 126 horse see horse and horseman kingfisher 156 pig 48, 58-59, 73, 124, 125, 126, 168 rhinoceros 28, 156 tiger 28, 87, 109, 168 tortoise 126 Angkor Borei / Vat Komnou, Takeo province, southern Cambodia 12, 41, 43-44, 51, 122, 126, 140, 144-145, 146-147, 152, 165-166, 170-171 Angkor Wat 12, 140 An Son, Long An province, southern Vietnam 62 Bac Ly, Bac Giang province, northern Vietnam 81 Bactria 170 Ban Chiang, Udon Thani province, northeastern Thailand 13 Ban Don Ta Phet, Kanchanaburi province, western central Thailand 13, 121, 143, 159 Ban Lum Khao, Nakhon Ratchasima province, northeastern Thailand 48-49, 52, 63, 90, 144 Ban Non Wat, Nakhon Ratchasima province, northeastern Thailand 46, 62, 68 Banqui deposit, Guizhou province, southern China 115 Ba Phnom, Prey Veng province, southeastern Cambodia 170-172 Bastian, Adolf (1826-1905) 157 Ba Thuoc district, Thanh Hoa province, northern Vietnam 167 Batavia 157 beads 21, 26, 41, 92, 116-124, 141, 146, 152, 158-165 agate 21, 26, 41, 54, 78, 116, 117, 119, 121, 139, 159, 161-163 carnelian 21, 26, 41, 78, 93, 116, 117, 119, 121, 139, 150, 152, 159-163 clay 152 garnet 21, 42, 55, 58, 59, 93, 97, 116, 117, 119, 123, 139, 152, 161-163 glass 26, 41, 54, 61, 64, 75, 76, 78, 85, 93, 97, 100, 116, 117-119, 120-123, 139, 152, 159 gold 88, 89, 152 nephrite 160, 161-162 rock crystal 116, 119, 139, 152, 159, 161162 bell see bronze, bell Bien Ho, Gia Lai province, central Vietnam 160 bio-anthropological data 102, 103, 104-105, 106, 107, 108, 109 genetically variant ‘foramina molaris’ 105 intentional ante-mortem loss of anterior dentition 107, 109 strontium / oxygen isotopes analysis 55-56 teeth 104-107, 108, 109


inhumation 45, 50, 58, 59, 95, 139-140, 139147, 152, 165 jar burial 39, 43, 49-50, 59, 95, 101, 109, 124, 125, 139-140, 150, 152, 160 mat wrapping 45-46, 47, 140, 165 wooden coffin 45-46 burial head orientation 140-147, 165 Ban Lum Khao 144 Dong Son 40 Go O Chua 140, 144, 146 Go Thap 147 Koh Ta Meas 140 Village 10.8 144-146 Phnom Borei 146 Phum Snay 147 Prey Khmeng 147 Prohear 39-40, 42, 45, 54-55, 59, 101, 109, 144-147 Vat Komnou 146 Cai Lang, Dong Nai province, southern Vietnam 69 Cai Van, Dong Nai province, southern Vietnam 69 carnelian bead see beads, carnelian deposit see deposit bracelet 152 earring 160 raw material 159 ceramic 44, 74 anvil 66 bead see beads, clay basin-shaped pot with wide-opened mouth 54, 74 circular cord-marked pot 48, 54, 73 epaulette 13, 90, 92, 147 goblet 46, 73-74, 86 high pedestalled bowl 26, 39, 43, 44, 74 high pot with funnel-shaped rim 39, 43, 44, 74

Bit Meas, Prey Veng province, southeastern Cambodia 19, 20-21, 24, 149, 152-153, 155, 169-170 name of the village 19 blacksmith 63-65, 166 boar see animal Bong Mieu, Quang Nam province, central Vietnam 114 bronze object 127, 129, 139, 141, 146-147, 165 bell 41-42, 51, 53, 75, 95, 96, 109, 149, 165166 bracelet 43, 51-52, 54, 58, 67, 76, 78, 101, 124, 125, 141, 148, 166 bowl 26, 41-42, 53, 68, 75, 88, 92, 93, 94-95, 97, 100, 109, 142, 143, 147-148, 165-166 buffalo bracelet 41, 51, 55, 63, 75, 77-78, 86, 89, 90-91, 146, 148, 166-167 disc 42, 51, 53, 94, 95, 97, 109, 142, 143, 144, 147-148, 165, 167 drum 24, 38, 41-42, 45-46, 47, 54, 56, 59, 67, 75, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82-83, 84, 94, 100, 109, 147-150, 155-156, 158, 165-168, 170 earring 75, 166 finger ring 90, 91, 148 helmet 13, 90 jewelry 75 lance 26 rattle 92 situla 94 weapon 54 bronze smelting / casting 67-72, 83-84 mold 67-68, 69, 83 buffalo see animal buffalo bracelet see bronze / iron Bung Bac, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, southern Vietnam 69 burial custom 139-147 cremation 74, 140, 147 ‘ghost hole’ 74, 75, 78

large jars with a globular body and narrow mouth 54 molds see bronze smelting / casting round chipped sherd 67 shallow bowls with a low foot 46, 54, 73 small bottle with a globular body 42-43, 44, 54, 73 spindle whorl 51-52, 54, 61, 62, 63, 78, 94, 100 storage jar 74 ceramic production 66-67 ceramic ware 73 burnished earthenware 43 fine orangeware 12, 41, 74, 75, 78 Champa 157 chicken see animal Cochinchina 157 Coedès, George (1886-1969) 170 coins (Wuzhu) 153 Con Dai, Thua Thien-Hue province, central Vietnam 161, 163 Con Rang, Thua Thien-Hue province, central Vietnam 161, 163 copper-tin deposit see deposit crocodile see animal Daping deposit, Yunnan province, southern China 115 dating 145 see also Prohear, dating Dau Giay, Dong Nai province, southern Vietnam 71 deposit agate 163 carnelian 163 copper 68, 156 electrum 113, 155, 166 garnet 162 gold / silver 113-114, 115, 154-158, 166 iron 65-66 tin 68, 156


Dian (Lake Dian), Yunnan province, southern China 167 Dian culture 13, 149, 155, 167-168, 169, 170 Doc Chua, Binh Duong province, southern Vietnam 62, 69 Dongguolin deposit, Yunnan province, southern China 115 Dong Hoa, Thanh Hoa province, northern Vietnam 81 Dong Son, Thanh Hoa province, northern Vietnam 40, 94, 148 Dong Son culture 13, 46, 75, 149, 167 Dong Xa, Hung Yen province, northern Vietnam 46 Do Son, Hai Phong province, northern Vietnam 92 drum see bronze drum earring see bronze, gold and silver or glass electrum deposit see deposit elephant see animal epaulette see ceramic ethnic minorities Jarai (Giaraïe) 66 Kuy 66 Sedang (Cédan) 66 Stieng (Stiên) 27, 57, 66 fish see animal Funan and Funan culture 13, 150-151, 156, 168, 170-171 Gandhara, Pakistan 163 Gaolong deposit, Guangxi province, southern China 115 garnet bead see beads, garnet garnet deposit see deposit Georgia 98, 158 Getang deposit, Guizhou province, southern China 115 Giao Chi 169 Giong Ca Vo, Ho Chi Minh City area, southern Vietnam 71, 121, 123, 152, 160, 163


Go Mun, Quang Nam province, central Vietnam 89, 112 Go O Chua, Long An province, southern Vietnam 13, 39-40, 42-43, 44, 48-50, 59, 63, 6465, 66, 67, 69, 70-71, 73, 75, 89, 107-109, 117, 125, 126, 140, 141, 144, 145, 146-147, 152, 162-163, 165 Go Thap, Dong Thap province, southern Vietnam 61, 65, 124, 140, 147, 151 Hang Gon, Dong Nai province, southern Vietnam 71 Heger, Franz (1853-1931) 79 Hepu, Guangxi province, southern China 163 Hoa Diem, Khanh Hoa province, central Vietnam 163 horse and horseman 87, 168, 169 immigration 40, 107, 139, 145, 165 imported object / product 59, 73, 75, 101, 142, 151, 156-159, 163, 165-166 India 158-161, 163-164, 167-168, 170 Indonesia 84, 113, 157-158, 170 iron deposit see deposit iron object 25, 54, 58, 78, 127, 130, 131, 139, 142, 146, 153 arrowhead 109 bracelet 25, 51, 54, 64, 75, 76, 92, 130 buffalo bracelet 41, 63, 66, 89, 148 dagger 52, 64 ingot 65, 166 knife 64 slag 61, 63, 64 socketed axe 52, 64, 67, 130 sword 52, 76, 86, 95, 153 weapon 52, 75-76, 153 iron ore 65-66 iron smelting 65, 124 iron smithing 63-65, 71, 123-124 iron smithing hearth 64-65 jade and nephrite 57, 123, 152, 160 Janse, Olov R.T. (1895-1985) 40, 94

Giong Lon, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, southern Vietnam 13, 116, 152, 153, 154-155, 160, 163, 170 Giong Noi, Ben Tre province, southern Vietnam 71 Giong Phet, Ho Chi Minh City area, southern Vietnam 71 glass making 119-123 local handicraft 123-124 substitute for fakes 123 glass object bead see beads, glass bracelet 118, 122 earring 54, 58, 59, 75, 118, 123-124 Go Cam, Quang Nam province, central Vietnam 124 Go De, Long An province, southern Vietnam 114, 116 gold / silver object 78, 84, 85, 118, 127, 129, 139, 141, 150-152, 155, 165 beads see beads, gold bracelet 51-52, 56, 75, 78, 84, 86, 152, 156 coin 152, 157 earcoil 152 earring 21, 78, 84, 85, 86, 101, 113, 146, 152-155, 158, 166 finger ring 21, 49, 51-52, 75, 78, 84, 85, 8788, 94, 151-152, 156, 168 foil 150, 152 foil tube 86, 87-89, 92, 101 hair ornament 78, 84, 85 ingot 151 leaf 152 mask 13, 152, 153, 170-171 plaque 151, 152 tube ring 153 gold / silver analysis 109-111, 112, 113, 114115, 157 gold / silver deposit see deposit goldsmith 85-86, 111, 150-151, 157-158

Jaque, Christoval de (~1540-~1610) 157 Jarai (Giaraïe) see ethnic miniorities Java 113, 153-154, 158, 163 Jinchang deposit, Yunnan province, southern China 115 Jinfeng (Lannigou) deposit, Guizhou province, southern China 115 Jinsha, Sichuan province, China 155 Jinya deposit, Guangxi province, southern China 115 Kele, Guizhou province, southern China 46-47, 144, 148, 156, 166-167 Khao Sam Kaeo, Chumphon province, ThaiMalay Peninsula, Thailand 63, 122, 159 Khao Wong Prachan Valley, central Thailand 68 Khlong Thom see Khuan Luk Pad Khuan Luk Pad, Krabi province, Thai-Malay Peninsula, Thailand 122, 159 Koh Ta Meas, Siem Reap province, northwestern Cambodia 46, 107, 125-126, 139-140, 145 Krek 10.8 see Village 10.8, Kampong Cham province, southeastern Cambodia Kuy see ethnic miniorities Lai Nghi, Quang Nam province, central Vietnam 89, 94, 117, 119, 152-153, 154, 155, 160-161, 162 Laowangzhai deposit, Yunnan province, southern China 115 Lien Lau, Bac Ninh province, north Vietnam 83 Lijiashan, Yunnan province, southern China 155-156 Liujiagou see Kele, Guizhou province, southern China Loc Ninh, Binh Phuoc province, southern Vietnam 163 looting 13-14, 19-21, 23-24, 25, 29-30, 33, 35, 38, 54, 116, 133


Malleret, Louis (1901-1970) 92, 113-114, 150154, 158 Manila 157 Mouhot, Henri (1826-1861) 27-28, 57 My Nghia, Tien Giang province, southern Vietnam 71 Nanyue 167, 169 nephrite see jade Noen U-Loke, Nakhon Ratchasima province in northeastern Thailand 48-49, 52, 65, 66, 90, 152, 159, 162 Non Muang Kao, Nakhon Ratchasima province in northeastern Thailand 159, 162 Oc Eo, An Giang province, southern Vietnam 13, 16, 114, 122, 140, 150, 170-171 O Pie Can, Preah Vihear province, northern Cambodia 68 Pakistan 158, 163 Persia 158 Phnom Borei, Takeo province, southern Cambodia 61, 121, 145, 146-147 Phnom Deck, Preah Vihear province, northern Cambodia 66 Phu Chanh, Binh Duong province, southern Vietnam 81, 149, 169 Phu Hoa, Dong Nai province, southern Vietnam 71, 163 Phu Kham deposit, Xieng Khoang province, Laos 114 Phu Lon, Nong Khai province, northeastern Thailand 68 Phu Luu, Quang Binh province, central Vietnam 79 Phum Krasang Thmei, Banteay Meancheay province, northwestern Cambodia 126, 145, 146, 166 Phum Snay, Banteay Meanchey province, northwestern Cambodia 13, 45, 51-52, 63, 68, 75, 90, 91, 94, 107, 113, 121, 126, 139, 145, 146148, 166-167


burial 24 75, 76, 110, 112, 118, 119 burial 25 85, 112 burial 26 61, 108, 112, 125 burial 27 52, 61, 110, 112 burial 28 61 burial 29 burial 30 61, 75 burial 31 61, 75 burial 32 125 burial 33 42, 48, 52, 59, 61, 68, 75-76, 85, 87, 88, 92, 93, 94-95, 99-101, 108, 109, 118119, 123, 147 burial 34 52, 61, 75-76, 112, 118-119 burial 35 61, 75-76, 112, 119, 123 burial 36 61, 75, 99-101 burial 37 33 burial 38 61, 75 burial 39 61, 75, 119 burial 40 52, 56, 59, 61, 75-76, 86, 99, 118 burial 41 59, 61 burial 42 119 burial 43 61, 112, 119 burial 44 41-42, 74-76, 105, 112 burial 45 75, 112 burial 46 42, 59, 75-76, 85, 86, 88, 89, 99101, 118, 118, 153, 158 burial 47 42, 43, 51-52, 53, 59, 61, 75, 94, 95, 96-97, 98, 99, 101, 109, 119, 142, 147148 burial 48 43, 75 burial 49 39, 43, 48, 54, 59 burial 50 51, 75, 85, 87 burial 51 39, 59, 61 burial 52 33 dating 39-41, 99-102, 145 demographical data 48-52, 59-60 excavation 32-36 food remains 47-48 handicrafts 61-72 jar burial 39, 43, 49, 59, 101, 124, 125

pig see animal Pires, Tomé (~1465– ~1524 / 1540) 156 Pre-Funan culture 49, 76, 159-160, 167 Prek Puoy, Kampong Cham province, southeastern Cambodia 81, 83, 149-150 Prey Khmeng, Siem Reap province, northwestern Cambodia 45, 107, 126, 145, 146-147, 166 Prohear, Prey Veng province, southeastern Cambodia 23, 27, 28-34 burial, distribution map 32 burial 1 33 burial 2 42, 51, 54, 59, 79, 85, 89, 105, 108, 112 burial 3 42, 46, 54, 59, 85, 86, 99-100, 110, 112, 114, 118, burial 4 39, 41-42, 45-46, 47, 48, 51, 52, 55, 59, 74, 75, 76, 77-78, 79, 80, 83-84, 85, 86, 87, 89, 90-91, 94, 99-100, 104, 109110, 112, 114, 119, 125-126, 147 burial 5 39, 43, 125 burial 6 33 burial 7 39, 99, 101, 105 burial 8 99, 112, 119 burial 9 40, 75-76, 99, 125 burial 10 42, 54, 59, 75, 79, 85, 87, 112 burial 11 51, 75-76, 119 burial 12 40, 46, 52, 59, 73, 75, 86, 87, 110, 112 burial 13 104, 125 burial 14 75, 85, 86, 119, 150 burial 15 48, 54, 58, 59, 99, 104, 118 burial 16 40, 48, 99 burial 17 33 burial 18 75, 85, 87, 125 burial 19 39, 48, 59, 99, 106, 105 burial 20 41, 42, 61, 75-76 burial 21 41, 42, 48, 59, 21 burial 22 41, 49, 75-76, 112 burial 23 41, 75, 119

jewelry 14, 45, 51-53, 54, 75 landscape 28 map 19, 27, 32 mortuary period 39-44 name of the village 30 settlement 61 site 28-34 skeletal remains 45, 47-48, 102-105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 124 weapon 51-52, 54, 75-76 Rach Gia Bay, Kien Giang province, southern Vietnam 171 Rach Nui, Long An province, southern Vietnam 71 restoration work 35, 73, 127, 128, 129, 130-131, 132, 136-137 rhinoceros see animal rock crystal beads see beads, rock crystal bracelet 152 earring 160 Sa Huynh, Quang Ngai province, central Vietnam see Sa Huynh culture Sa Huynh culture 13, 44, 50, 71, 75, 95, 112, 124, 139, 153, 159-160, 167, 169 salt making 13, 70-71 Sampeou Loon deposit, Kampong Cham province, southeastern Cambodia 113-114, 115 Samrong Sen, Kampong Chhnang province, central Cambodia 68 San Antonio, Gabriel Quiroga de (~15601608) 156 Sanxingdui, Sichuan province, China 155 Sedang (Cédan) see ethnic minorities Shizhaishan, Yunnan province, southern China 57, 167 silk 155, 164 silk route by sea 16, 155 silk route by land 167, 170 silver see gold


smithing hearth see iron smithing hearth South Asia 120-121, 143, 158-160, 163 spindle whorl see ceramics spinning and weaving see textile production Sri Lanka 159 Stieng (Stiên) see ethnic minorities stone objects 22, earring 75, 123 phallic-shaped stone pestle 50, 51, 54, 165 sugar boiling 22 Sulawesi 153 Sumatra 163 Suoi Chon, Dong Nai province, southern Vietnam 71 Taxila, Pakistan 86, 163 Temu, first capital of Funan 13, 170 textile production 51-52, 62-63, Tien Lanh, Quang Nam province, central Vietnam 95 tiger see animal Tillya Tepe, Afghanistan 86 tortoise see animal Toul Prasat Kro Houm, Svay Rieng province, southeastern Cambodia 22 Tra Dong, Thanh Hoa province, northern Vietnam 83 Transbassac area 113, 150-153, 158 Troja, Türkei 84 Trung sisters (~12-43 AD) 77, 169 Truong Giang, Thanh Hoa province, northern Vietnam 79 Ukraine 86 Vat Komnou see Angkor Borei, Takeo province Village 10.8, Kampong Cham province, southeastern Cambodia 75, 95, 121, 140-141, 142-143, 145, 146, 148-149, 152, 166-167 Vincent, Frank (1848-1916) 157 Vinh Phuc, Binh Dinh province, central Vietnam 81


Yimencun near Bạoi city, Shaanxi province 57 Yue 82, 170 Zhao Rugua (1170-1228) 156 Zhou Daguan (~1270-1350) 45, 84, 89, 156157 Zimudang deposit, Guizhou province, southern China 115

Vung Tau and Vung Tau Bay, southern Vietnam 13, 139, 149, 155, 160, 166, 170 wealth scale 56-59, 117-118 Yata deposit, Guizhou province, southern China 115 Yelang culture 148, 167, 169-170 Yen Bac, Ha Nam province, northern Vietnam 46

























































The Prohear Archaeological Team
Andreas Reinecke (Bonn) is affiliated with the Commission for Archaeology of Non-European Cultures (KAAK) of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Bonn, Germany. He has studied prehistoric archaeology and Vietnamese language in Berlin. In the last decade, he has focused on the Metal Age periods in Southeast Asia and managed excavations on both sides of the southern Vietnamese-Cambodian border.

Vin Laychour (Phnom Penh) is General Director of Cultural Affairs at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He studied prehistoric archaeology at the Faculty of Archaeology, Royal University of Fine Arts (Phnom Penh) and at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen (Germany). Since 2003 he has taught archaeology at the Royal University of Fine Arts. He is also a member of the Memot Centre staff and has carried out excavations at numerous sites in southeast Cambodia.

Seng Sonetra (Phnom Penh) is conservator in the Metal Restoration Laboratory of the Memot Centre for Archaeology. She studied archaeology at the Royal University of Fine Arts, and was educated in metal restoration at the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM) in Mainz, Germany. She teaches metal conservation at the Faculty of Archaeology, Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, and has worked on several excavations at sites in southeast Cambodia.

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