Earthwatch archaeologist Dr. Nigel Chang of Australia leads the ongoing dig at Ban Non Wat in northern Thailand, exploring the history of an area that once included the seat of the Khmer Empire.
Why focus on Ban Non Wat?
“Over the course of the excavations at Ban Non Wat, the local villagers have become increasingly involved,” Dr. Chang has told Earthwatch. “Through funding from Earthwatch, the project is able to employ up to 40 villagers at the peak field season, with the aim of having at least one person from each household on the payroll. Thanks to the importance of the Thai cultural history unearthed at this location, plans are being discussed for developing infrastructure and an educational center in the area. This amazing cultural story unearthed in a small Thai village has dramatically shifted international understanding of Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures in Southeast Asia. After many busy and successful field seasons, it seems the team is on the threshold of more illuminating and fascinating results to come.”
Great moment in the field
A notable find during the 2009/10 field season was an approximately 2,000-year-old dog burial. A beautifully preserved canine skeleton was buried as it might have lain in life, with its right forefoot curled around a ceramic dish and its head upright and resting on its left forefoot. It seems that this tradition of dog burials may have continued throughout the prehistoric occupation of Ban Non Wat, indicating that these dogs were important and familiar animals in the community.