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Ban Chiang

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Little visited Ban Chiang is a sleepy, rural town whose sole focus for visitors is the astounding archaeological excavations.

Set near to the junction of three small streams, it was not until the 1960s that excavation of the sites surrounding Ban Chiang began after a number of visitors had reported finding large pots of immense beauty.

The first serious dig in 1967 unearthed a complete skeleton including bronze and iron relics, pottery and an assortment of glass beads.

This early result encouraged further digging and by 1973, 30 sq metres had been unearthed. By the early 1970s however, looting had become a very serious problem as private (often foreign) collectors did their best to pillage the natural history of the region.

The amount of damage done by these looters was immeasurable and it became difficult for the archaeologists to work in areas which had not already been damaged.

Tragically, one of the original instigators of the early research and excavations, Chester Gorman, died in 1981 as summarising investigations were being undertaken. Although Chester was never to see the results of his and many other's work, you can.

The museum at Ban Chiang is not huge but it's really quite interesting. In addition to displaying ancient artifacts discovered at the nearby excavation site and the celebrated funeral urns that the region is famous for, there are informative explanations in English about the items, and more importantly - what they tell us.

The museum shows the ancient ways of life, displaying tools and adornments. The main draw card is of course the red and buff urns, the different styles corresponding clearly to different periods in time. These had different purposes, from day to day use and more notably, as burial urns.

On the upper floors are some fascinating displays of urns buried with adults, and larger examples in which children were buried.

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Text and/or map last updated on 20th August, 2009.

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