This is the first time that the entire course of mainland Southeast Asian prehistory has been covered in one volume. This is a vast canvas, that covers the mainland as it waxed and waned with the changing level of the sea. It begins with the early homins of Flores and Java, who came from Africa over a million years ago. The second major arrival came at least 50,000 years ago, when ancestral anatomically modern humans left Africa and their first great exodus, reached the warm and inviting lowlands of Southeast Asia.
Dramatic new discoveries now place the origins of rice and millet domestication in China at least five thousand years ago, and this lead to a series of movements into Southeast Asia, where the farmers met with and mixed with local groups of hunter gatherers. A vital new series of radiocarbon determinations from two key Thai sites, Ban Non Wat and Ban Chiang, has revealed that copper metallurgy, again of northern origin, spread across the mainland from the late second millennium BC, an innovation that sparked fundamental social changes.
By 400 BC, the mainland was incorporated in a maritime trade network that brought exotic goods from India and China. The establishment of the Iron Age at this juncture stimulated further social changes that the author traces into the period of early states. The civilizations of Southeast Asia centred at Angkor, in Central Thailand and the coast of Vietnam are ancestral to the modern nations of Southeast Asia.
This book is essential reading for all those interested in archaeologically, one of the most exciting regions of the world.