Recent Archeological Research Work in Siam. พิมพ์ อีเมล
เขียนโดย Erik Seidenfaden.   

SEIDENFADEN, ERIK. RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH WORK IN SIAM. JSS. VOL.30 (pt.3) 1938. p.241-247.

notes and queries.
Recent Archeological Research Work in Siam.

 

          Dr. H. G. Quaritch Wales, Field Director of the Greater India
Research Committee, whose activities have been made possible through
the munificent assistance of several interested maecenae among them
His Highness the Maharaja Gaekwar of Baroda, has spent a series of
cold seasons on excavation and research work in different parts of
Siam during the years 1934 to 1936. The object of this work being
to study the influx and penetration of the ancient Indian culture into
Indochina and Insulinde.
          The reports of this research work have been published in Indian
Art and Letters Vol. IX, No. 1 and Vol. X, Nos. 1 and 2. (I have
not read No. 1 of Vol. X which treats of further excavations at
Phong Tiik).
          The first season's work was confined to the Siamese part of the
Malay Peninsula and consisted of some diggings at Thung Tlik,
Takuapa ; ^. a survey of the ancient Indian emigrant's route from
Takuapa across the hill range and down the Menam Luang to Ban-
don ; further excavations at Vieng Sra and Nakon Sri Thammarat
and a study of the architectural and art forms of the temples in and
around Chaiya. The conclusions of Dr. Wales' researches are, among
others, that Professor Cœdès was wrong in placing the capital of the
hinduized Malay Empire of Srivijaya at Palernbang on the East
coast of Sumatra. Dr. Wales opines that Chaiya was the capital of
Srivijaya and that from Chaiya radiated the cultural influence which
produced the various art and architectural schools that flourished in
Cambodia, Champa and Java.
___________________________________________________________
(1) This site has already been described, though not in detail, by the late
Mr. H. G. Scott in Notes and Queries—Remarks on the land routes across the
Malay Peninsula by Mr. F. H. Giles, JSS. Vol. XXVIII, Part 1, 1935,
pp. 82-84.

 

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                                 NOTES AND QUERIES      [VOL.XXX

 

          Prof. Oœdès has, however, in his admirable and concise paper
A propos d'une nouvelle théorie sur la site de Srivijaya^ shown
that the Javanese influence in the temple architecture of Chaiya may
very well have been due to a reflux, from south to north, of Indian
culture which had then already been stamped with the impress of
that particular art form which we call the Javanese. Furthermore,
and this is the decisive point, the position of Chaiya in a cul-de-sac
could never have enabled it to play the rôle as the capital of thalas-
socraty from where the Maharaja could dominate the States of
Malacca. As Prof. Cœdès says:— It is a geographical impossibi-
lity ! To which all unbiassed students of Indonesian history
must agree.
          With regard to the famous Sailendra dynasty Prof. Credès says
th&t it was probably a Javanese dynasty of which a brand), became
the sovereigns of the Srivijaya Empire.
          As far as we understand the placing of Palembang as the capital
of Srivijaya may now, in view of recent finds, have to be given up
in favour of another place more rich than Palembang in archeologi-
cal remains from that time but as this new place is also situated in
Sumatra and on the East coast of that island it does not in the main
weaken the position of Prof. Cœdès.
          Dr. Wales is of course quite right in stressing the importance of
Chaiya, which in the 7th-8th century a. d. was most probably a large
and populous town situated perhaps at a former outlet of the Menam
Luang, and because of its being the terminus of the ancient overland
route from Takuapa it must have been a thriving trade emporium.
          The numerous ruins of formerly imposing and noble temples as
well as the remains of innumerable dykes of ancient paddy fields
which overall in the jungle stretching far away to the west of the
present town are eloquent witnesses to Chaiya's erstwhile greatness.
          The second expedition organized by the Greater India Research
Committee, during the winter 1935-36, took Dr. Quaritch Wales and
his plucky wife to the ancient now deserted town of Mu'ang Sri Thep
(Sri Deva) which is situated on the left bank of the Sak river on its
lower course. Here Dr. Wales has done real and meritorious pioneer
work. This ancient site had not previously been visited by any
competent archeologist with the exception of His Royal Highness
Prince Damrong Rajanubhab who made a brief survey of the old
__________________________________________________________
(1) JRAS., Malayan Branch, Vol. XIV, Part 1, December 1936

 

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                                    PT.II]    NOTES AND QUERIES

town in the year 1901. Mr. F. H. Giles, the present President of the
Siam Society, visited Mu'ang Sri Thep in 1907 but did not study the
ruins there; and the Dane, Lieutenant-Colonel J. P. Andersen of the
Provincial Gendarmerie, just missed seeing it when on a lengthy
inspection tour in 1925.
          Dr. Wales is thus the first one to undertake a more thorough-going
study of this very interesting ancient place.
          Dr. and Mrs. Wales spent 3 weeks at the old town which they
mapped out while studying the various temple ruins found there. Dr.
Wales recognised two cultural epochs of Sri Deva, as he prefers to
call the place : namely, an early one of the 6th century which was
Indian and Brahmanical, and a later one which was Khmer and also
Brahmanical.
          Dr. Wales describes the town plan as typical Indian and non-Khmer.
To this we would like to say that the ordinary Khmer towns were
generally built in a square and so were the Indian towns toe to be
in accordance with the castras.(1) The plan of Mu'ang Sri Thep, as
given by Dr. Wales, thus rather suggests the outline of one of these
prehistoric, more or less circular or eggshaped, fortified places of which
a number are met with in the big forest, Khok Luang, that extends
to the south of the towns of Khorat, Phimai and Buriram on the
north-eastern plateau, and which were probably the work ef primi-
tive Khmer or Chaobun (Niakuol).
          When the Indian emigrants reached the place where Sri Thep's
temples later on were to raise their pinnacles they probably found a
not wholly uncivilized Chaobun population living in such an earth-
walled town.
          Dr. Wales discerns between monuments of pure Indian and of
Khmer origin. We shall not occupy ourselves with those of the
latter style which are well known to all students of Cambodian art.
With regard to the buildings classified by Dr. Wales as being of pure
Indian style and said to be strongly reminiscent of the brick temple
at Bhitargaon in the Cawnpore district (5th to 6th century a. d.) I
would, though not questioning Dr. Wales' or Dr. Stella Kramrisch's
authority on Indian temple architecture, suggest that a detailed com-
parison with the elements of the primitive Khmer style be made
_____________________________________________________________
(1) See Monsieur Victor Goloubew's Cosmomagie et urbanisme chez les
Khmers published in the report on the Congrès Intel-national des Sciences
anthropologiques et ethnologiques, London 1934.

 

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                                  NOTES AND QUERIES      [VOL. XXX

before the Sri Thep temples are adjudged to be of a purely Indian
origin and as such " the ancestral form which, as the result of evolu-
tion and the effect of late Pallava influence, produced the rich type
of primitive Khmer architecture, and that it alone is the one certain
example that remains to witness to the nature of the ancient archi-
tecture of Fu-nan " ^' I have not been to Mu'ang Sri Thep myself
but by comparing the plan and transverse section given by Dr.
Wales with similar plans and transverse sections given by M.
Parmentier in his monumental work L'Art khmer primitif,(3) and
lately in his Complément à l'art khmer primitif (4) I was struck by
the almost identical traits and even details of the Sri Thep temples
and those now recognized to belong to primitive Khmer art.
          The above suggestions of mine also hold good with regard to the
sculptures as found and described by Dr. Wales.
          A visit to Mu'ang Sri Thep by one of the trained archeologists of
the Ecole Française d'Extrême Orient would no doubt help to clarify
the position, proving or modifying the views as set forth by Dr. Wales.
          The author mentions the " Imperial route of ancient Funan " follow-
ing the Mûn river from east to west and crossing a pass in the hills
that form the western escarpment of the Khorat plateau, just opposite
Mu'ang Sri Thep. A closer study of that ancient route would per-
haps explain the reason for the existence of that row of old strong-
holds which stretches from Ubonrajadhani in the east to the fortress
of Mu'ang Sema Rang (situated to the north-west of Sung No'n in
Khorat) in the west. Were they erected as a protection for that
ancient route ? I hope in a later paper to be able to treat of the
many old fortified places found on the Khorat plateau (as far as
memory serves there are more than one hundred of them) of which
a certain number might have been constructed for the purpose of
protecting the navigation on the Mûn river at a time when this water
course was:navigable the whole year round and as such constituted
an important military as well as commercial high-way.
_____________________________________________________________

     (1) See The Exploration of Sri Deva, an Ancient Indian City in Indo-
china by Dr. H. G. Quaritch Wales in Indian Art and Letters, Vol. X, No. 2,
p. 21.
     (2)  Op. cit. pp. 12 and 18.
     (3)  Reviewed by the writer in JSS, vol. XXII, part 1, 1928.
     (4)  BEFEO, Tome XXXV, 1935.

 

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                                  PT.II        NOTES AND QUERIES

          Dr. Wales, in treating of what he calls the four Main Waves of
Indian Cultural Expansion, says that the third wave, which lasted
from the sixth to the middle of the eighth century a. d., radiated
from the Bay of Bandon on to Cambodia (and Siam ? ) where in com-
bination with the pre-existing Gupta style of Funan it developed the
pre-Khmer or primitive Khmer art.
          In my Complément à l'Inventaire descriptif des monuments du
Cambodge p. 34-35 under "Hin tang," I mentioned a number of
standing Buddha images of red sandstone which are found on the
plain that expands to the south-west of the road connecting King
Ampho' Ban Chuan with Ampho' Chaturat. These images are no
doubt in the Gupta style, perhaps modified into the so-called Dvâra-
vatî art, and may .go back to the Funan period. In the same treatise
I mention also (p. 36) the find of a stelae with a Sanskrit inscription
hailing from Mu'ang Phu Khio Kao. Prof. Cœdès opines that the form
of the letters of this inscription shows that it dates back to the
7th-8th century a. d., and that the king mentioned, Cri Jayasimha-
vâmarâja, may have been a local Tchen-la prince.
          In connection with the further study of the cultural remains found
at Sri Thep it would perhaps be worth while to ponder on the
possibilities of a link between Sri Thep and the above mentioned
principality.
          Dr. Wales has also written an interesting article in " Man " for
June 1937 on Some human skeletons excavated in Siam. During
excavation work carried out at the ancient place at Phong Tiik on
the banks of the river Meklong in the province of Rajaburi, in
Western Siam, during the winter of 1936-37, Dr. Wales' working
party dug out at a depth of 4' 8" below ground level 10 human
skeletons all lying at full length and with their heads roughly point-
ing to the west.
          Dr. Wales says that according to his calculations this part of the
Meklong Valley has been silting up since the 6th century a. d. at
the rate of about 1 foot to 450 years, he therefore concludes that
these warriors (there were found corroded iron weapons with the
skeletons) lived about the 1st century a. d., provided they had not
received artificial burial.
          In any case he thinks they cannot date from later than the 6th
century a. d. As Dr. Cave of the Royal College of Surgeons in
London has classified the skulls as belonging to the Thai people. Dr,

 

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                          NOTES AND QUERIES           [VOL.XXX

Wales draws the conclusion that Thai colonies were already estab-
lished in the Meklong and Menam Valleys in the early centuries
of the Christian Era, a theory which is supported by Mr. F. H.
Giles in his Koh Laic Tradition*1' who goes so far as to say that
the existence of these Thai colonies " cannot be doubted ". His
Highness Prince Dhani Nivat, in Publications of interest in other
Journals in the same issue of JSS, adds that "in view of Phya
Nakon Phra Râm's contentions based upon the evidence of pottery
          Dr. Wales' contentions would seem to be possible ". It will be
remembered that the late Phya Nakon Phra Râm in his learned
paper on Tai Pottery^1 contends that Mu'ang Chalieng was founded
by Thai emigrants as early as 500 a. d.
          Dr. Wales therefore is of thé opinion that the existing theories of
Thai immigration into Siam should be revised. Instead of a Mon
population, as hitherto thought, inhabiting the ancient so-called king-
dom of Dvâravatï the finds may indicate that the Mon were only a
ruling caste or merely that the Mon language was the fashionable
language of that day.
          To all this seemingly overwhelming evidence of a Thai people
inhabiting even Lower Siam already during the first centuries of the
Christian era, instead of a Mon people, there is the following to
say :—First of all the position of the above mentioned skeletons,
the manner in which they were orientated and the placing of their
weapons at their side all prove most emphatically that here is a case
of artificial burial. They can not therefore, provided that Dr. Wales'
calculations with regard to the deposit of silt are correct, be older
than from the century. Next, as long as no more finds of this kind
have been made at the same latitude and in the other river valleys,
the theory of a settled Thai population in this part of Siam at that
far off time should not be accepted in general.
          The Thai warriors killed in fighting at Phong Tiik may simply
have been a band of adventurers coming down from the far North.
Supposing, however, we were to accept the theory that there existed
Thai settlements on the lower courses of the rivers Meklong, Suphan
and Menam Chao Phya already in the 6th century a. d., then such
settlements could only have been few, small and far between.   I still
__________________________________________________________

(1)  JSS. Vol. XXX, part 1, p. 18.
(2)  JSS. Vol. XXIX, Part 1, p. 23.

 

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                                  PT. II]       NOTES AND QUERIES

believe that the bulk of the population of the so-called Kingdom of
Dvàravatï in the 6th century as well as before and after for several
centuries, was Mon or rather a Mon people mixed with Melanesian or
Melanoid elements. For doing so I rely on the evidence of the
statuary of that period.
          Monsieur Dupont of the Ecole Française d'Extrême Orient, Dr. le
May and I myself hold that while the earliest Buddha images of
Dvàravatï were in pure Gupta style they later on deteriorated and
degenerated, taking on a coarse and almost negroid appearance. As
M. Dupont says they approached the " national type " in the 9th
century. This goes to show that the overwhelming portion of the
population inhabiting Siam at that time must have been Mon and
not Thai. If otherwise, the images would have born the impress of
the features of the Thai.
          Finally a word about the date of the foundation of Mu'ang Cha-
lieng. The late Phya Nakon Phra Râm seems to have been very
bold in fixing many of his dates for the immigration of the Thai into
this country. I believe for instance that the date of the foundation
of Mu'ang Chalieng has been antedated by at least a couple of hund-
reds of years. If there already at 500 a. d. existed a strong Thai
power in Chalieng it would hardly have been possible for the petty
Mon kingdom of Lophburi to colonize Northern Siam and establish a
kingdom at Harinphûnchai (Lamphûn) and Khelangkha (Lampang).
                                                                           Erik Seidenfaden.
Bangkok, August 1937.

 

 

 

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