Ancient Copper Mining in Laos: Heterarchies, Incipient States or Post-State Anarchists?
Antonino Tucci, Thongsa Sayavongkhamdy, Nigel Chang, Viengkeo Souksavatdy

In early 2009 the remains of wooden structures supporting ancient mining shafts were discovered during modern-day industrial copper mining in Savannakhet Province, Laos. Subsequent ‘rapid-response’ archaeological excavations within the Khanong A2 mining pit revealed over 130 tightly clustered vertical shafts measuring between 1.5 and 2.5m in diameter, and dating to around 2000 BP. A long-term conservation process was begun in order to preserve the rare wooden finds. In 2012 a second site with preserved wooden structures was revealed. Comparing these two sites and discussing them in relation to other sites discovered within the modern mining tenement, and in the wider Southeast Asian context, allows us to investigate the social context of mining in prehistoric Southeast Asia. The central question is whether local mining in Vilabouly is an example of complex industry and exchange relationships developed outside of traditional models of hierarchical social structures.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jaa.v2n2a1