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2 Analysis of Construction Techniques in Pyu Cities and Bagan Kyaw Lat A remarkable fact about Bagan is that presently over three thousand monuments are found concentrated in an area of forty-two square kilometres (sixteen square miles). An Inwa dynasty king, Moe-NyinThado , recorded 4,474 structures there in the 15th century. There are presently 3,122 monuments and mounds in the list of the archaeological department. If there were over 4,400 monuments in the 15th century, it is possible that approximately a thousand monuments are no longer standing, either in scattered ruins, rebuilt into new structures not listed in the inventory, or possibly eroded away by the Ayeyarwady River over the past five centuries. This chapter examines the construction techniques utilized at the Pyu sites such as Sriksetra and Bagan and compares these construction techniques with selected historical sites in Southeast Asia from the period between the beginning of the first millennium ce and the 14th century. This period starts with incipient urbanization and concludes with the end of Bagan in Myanmar history. 17-J02381 02 Bagan and the World.indd 15 9/10/17 8:45 AM 16 Kyaw Lat Overview of Ancient Civilizations in East Asia The earliest complex societies in Asia were found in the Indus Valley and the Yellow River and Yangtze River valleys. These societies developed parallel to the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Crete. The Yellow River and Yangtze River valleys were two core regions from where the Shang dynasty drew influences. Traditional records mention a series of legendary pre-Shang rulers, such as the Yellow Lord (Huang Di), who invented the key features of civilization like agriculture, the family, boats, carts, bows and arrows, and the calendar. It is believed that these rulers existed before the 22nd century bce. They were superseded by the Shang dynasty (1570–1045 bce), which coincided with the beginning of written and archaeological records. Chinese accounts of the Shang rulers match inscriptions on animal bones and tortoise shells that date from the 20th century bce at the city of Anyang in the valley of the Huang He (Yellow River) (Lawler 2009; Long and Taylor 2015).1 The remains of settlements belonging to Harappa culture are found throughout the Indus River Valley in Pakistan, India’s northwestern states as far east as New Delhi, and reaching up to the Oxus River in northern Afghanistan. The Indus Valley civilization which emerged around 2500 bce and abruptly terminated sometime around 1700 bce encompasses one of the largest geographical areas covered by a single Bronze Age culture; the reasons for its strange disappearance are not fully understood by scholars. The sudden end of Harappa was followed by an interval of about a thousand years during which no large-scale complex societies are known to have evolved in South Asia. Historians do not know why there were no or very few sites comparable to the Harappan sites in the Indian subcontinent between 1700 bce and the 7th century bce. By the 7th century bce, the kingdom of Magadha emerged centred at Pataliputra, near Patna in the state of Bihar. Chandragupta Maurya was the first ruler of the Mauryan dynasty; the third king, his grandson Asoka, became king around 269 bce and expanded his empire until it stretched from the Kashmir region in the north to modern Karnataka state in the south, and from the Ganges delta in the east to southern and eastern Afghanistan in the northwest. King Asoka sponsored the production of numerous inscriptions about Buddhist teachings and other edicts found in various parts of the Indian subcontinent. The 1st century ce witnessed the start of a process of proliferation of polities in Southeast Asia which embraced political ideologies and 17-J02381 02 Bagan and the World.indd 16 9/10/17 8:45 AM Analysis of Construction Techniques in Pyu Cities and Bagan 17 religious belief systems influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism. In northern Vietnam, Confucius-Chinese culture had a more entrenched influence. Chinese dynasties, beginning from the Han, ruled northern Vietnam under its commandery system. During the next millennium, China lost, re-established, and lost control of Vietnam, until a polity known as Nam Viet became independent. Rakhine, in the southwest part of Myanmar, was one of the first localities to adopt Buddhist and Hindu beliefs and Indic writing systems and political ideas. In central Myanmar, indigenous inscriptions, later Burmese chronicles, and Chinese records refer to a people or an archaeological culture as “Pyu”, which is...


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