U Thong, 100 or so km north of Bangkok, has been an important site for over 2,000 years, as witnessed by the discovery of a 3rd century Roman coin. The moated city was connected to the Chin river, thereby gaining access to international trade routes.
The inhabitants of the early centres of Classic Southeast Asian civilisation were already wealthy enough to own large quantities of ornate jewellery such as imported beads from India and carvec stone from Taiwan. They had so much gold that central and western mainland Southeast Asia including the U Thong area was known in Sanskrit as Suvarnabhumi, the Golden Land.
This publication brings a new perspective to the study of ancient gold from U Thong. The author is a trained research metallurgy scientist, and these skills have been brought to bear on the highly significant corpus of early gold artefacts found in ann around the moated city, the largest accumulation of such artefacts from any of the ancient muang of Thailand.
The goldsmiths were as highly skilled as those anywhere else in the world, but almost all previous studies have been written by people who can only study the outer appearance to draw conclusions regarding its age and place of origin.
Anna Bennett is an archaeological scientist and conservator, as well as a principal of Conservation and Technical Services Limited, a company she founded in 1989, which is affiliated with the Centre for the Scientific Investigation of Works of Art. She was trained as a conservator and gainde her PhD in 1988 from University College London. From her doctorial fieldwork in Lopburi province in the years 1984 to 1988, and frequent return visits to investigate new finds, she has been scientifically engaged with this region for some 32 years.