A Brief Reinterpretation of the Pollen Record from Khok Phanom Di, Central Thailand, and Its Archaeological Significance
Maloney, B. K., Antiquity
In 1989 and again in 1992, Antiquity reported evidence for early rice cultivation in central Thailand. A brief supplement clarifies the story.
Khok Phanom Di was occupied from c. 4000 BP (Maloney et al. 1989). Aitken (1992) thought the site was on a levee up to 20 km inland when it was settled, that there was no modern evidence for a transgression of more than 2-3 m in height or sign of major oscillation in the regional transgression, and that its abandonment was due to increased siltation. Yet the archaeological data indicate there was access to a mangrove environment - indisputable given the wealth of shell, fish bone and other remains of marine organisms from the site. The apparent contradiction is reconcilable: mangrove could extend 20 km inland along a large estuary.
The palynological and radiocarbon data from core KL 2 at Khok Phanom Di support the idea of a marine transgression at c. 5600 bp and are in accord with findings from the Gulf of Siam. The interpretation of the pollen record from below 2.5 m stands, with elaboration based on phytolith analysis (Kealhofer & Piperno 1994). Phytoliths possibly from Rhizophoraceae were found up to 1.75 m but declined markedly thereafter; Rhizophoraceae pollen, much of it fresh, showed a second peak near the top of the diagram (0.72-1.11 m). The inverted dates from the upper part of the core (Maloney et al. …