restricted access 10. Orthogeneity, Settlement Patterns and Earthenware Pottery Distribution in Bagan
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10 Orthogeneity, Settlement Patterns and Earthenware Pottery Distribution in Bagan John N. Miksic On the surface, Southeast Asian archaeology presents an extreme example of the dichotomy between the theoretical extremes of the orthogenetic and heterogenetic types of city. The remains of major monumental complexes such as Angkor, Borobudur/Prambanan and Bagan contrast sharply with the remains of trading port-cities such as Palembang, Barus and Singapore. This apparently simple picture, however, begins to display more shades of grey the more one peers beneath the surface, as further exploration begins to provide more detailed information about the lives of these ancient cities. Research at the site of Trowulan, east Java, in the early 1990s necessitated a revision of the previous assumption that Majapahit’s 14th-century capital was merely a complex of royal and religious buildings. Surface survey in the wake of large-scale looting of bricks for modern construction revealed dense scatters of pottery, both local and foreign. This pottery demonstrated the existence of numerous occupations and a dense population. Archaeological observation at the sites of Bagan and Sriksetra (Pyay, Prome) is beginning to shed light on the distribution of population and 17-J02381 10 Bagan and the World.indd 198 9/10/17 8:48 AM Orthogeneity, Settlement Patterns and Earthenware Pottery Distribution 199 range of economic activity at these sites. The occupations at the two sites overlap to a considerable extent, indicating that for a period of time they were linked in a complex economic relationship which written materials hint at but do not describe in detail. Data obtained from the study of pottery distribution patterns is capable of measuring the degree of socio-economic complexity at a site. Preliminary analysis of recent discoveries indicates that Sriksetra and Bagan, like Trowulan, may have been hinterland capitals with some heterogenetic as well as orthogenetic characteristics. Preliminary pottery data indicates that Sriksetra and Bagan were similar but differed in several significant aspects, including internal settlement patterns and presence or absence of Chinese ceramics. ***** While our knowledge of pre-modern interaction between Southeast Asia and its neighbours to the east and west is increasing, we still know little of the interaction between Southeast Asian societies during this period. Stylistic studies of art suggest that Southeast Asian societies interacted and exchanged cultural and artistic traits to a relatively high degree, as well as economic commodities (Brown 1994). Gradually increasing data suggest that Myanmar interacted with the eastern mainland of Southeast Asia during the late prehistoric (Bronze–Iron) period. Bronze spearheads from surface collections in Upper Burma, mainly the Dry Zone, are similar to those from Ban Chiang (Aung-Thwin 2001, p. 28), but the precise nature of this interaction is still obscure. Myanmar is still largely excluded from archaeological syntheses of the region, due to the relative scarcity of data published in English (e.g., Higham 1996, 2002). Some of the earliest urban centres in mainland Southeast Asia emerged in the Dry Zone of Myanmar during the early centuries of the first millennium ce. Five major walled sites of three hundred hectares or more are commonly attributed to an Indianized, Tibeto-Burman speaking group called the Pyu, who are thought to have constituted the main population of this area during the first millennium ce (Aung Thaw 1968, 1972; Aung-Thwin 1982–83, 2006; Brown 2001; Gutman and Hudson 2004; Hudson 2004; Moore 2007; Luce 1960; Stadtner 1998). A paradigm based on interpretation of Chinese texts, which was long popular and is still found in much secondary literature, infers that the sites of Beikthano, Halin and Sriksetra formed successive capitals of a Pyu kingdom encompassing 17-J02381 10 Bagan and the World.indd 199 9/10/17 8:48 AM 200 John N. Miksic the Dry Zone and areas in southern Myanmar (Luce 1960). While Luce generally treated the Pyu as a homogenous group, he also acknowledged that Chinese sources from the 4th and 9th centuries mentioned 298 tribes (bulou; recent scholars prefer to translate this word as “settlements”, according to Sun 1997, p. 16) and eighteen dependent kingdoms in Pyu territory (1985, pp. 68–71). Discovery of new archaeological sites at Mongmao (Maingmaw) and Wadi, and the application of radiocarbon dating techniques, have shown that there were more than three Pyu-type urban sites, and that the occupations of these sites overlapped, leading to reconsiderations of earlier theories according to which successive Pyu capitals were abandoned as new ones arose (Hudson 2001, 2004; Moore 2004, 2007; Shah Alam 2002, 2006, n.d...