Tracing the Origins of Bronze Technology and Metal Exchange in Southeast Asia
托马斯·普莱思 Thomas Pryce
(法国国家科学研究中心 French National Centre for Scientific Research)
迄今为止，我对大量年代数据的贡献有限，我的主要贡献是整合了来自缅甸中北部的考古新信息。自2012年底以来，我有幸在中北部担任法国驻缅甸考古学团的负责人。这次在法国国家科学研究中心与缅甸宗教事务和文化部的国家考古和博物馆局开展的合作，成功地为缅甸重要的聚落和墓地提供了新石器时代到青铜时代的基线，即靠近钦敦江下游的奥凯/尼昂干遗址。以全国史无前例的52个AMS 14C数据为基础，缅甸的考古年代序列展示了在公元前10世纪左右的一次传播。这可以被认为与我们从泰国东北部和中部地区以及在地理上更接近金属环境的云南具有高度一致性。自2017年以来，缅法联合考古队就一直在被联合国教科文组织列为世界遗产的“Pyu”历史古城遗址哈林进行发掘。我们主要清理大量的史前地层，但似乎有一个潜在的时间序列，涵盖了公元前3千纪中期至公元2千纪初。当我在上海演讲时，我们的多国团队正在发掘铁器时代（公元前1千纪晚期）的墓地，除了已有的哈林30个放射性碳测年结果之外，他们目前还在等待另外40个放射性碳测年结果。我们正在为缅甸中北部建立起基于 14C数据的文化序列，一次进行一个试验点/日期/分析，作为东南亚大陆最北端的发掘，我们的研究结果关系到云南和东北印度，就像它们关系到柬埔寨、老挝、泰国和越南的主要核心一样。我借此机会衷心感谢缅甸宗教事务和文化部部长阁下，国家考古和博物馆局总干事以及法国驻缅甸联邦共和国大使阁下，感谢他们的共同、不懈的支持。
作为区域冶金考古学的技术专家是我对早期东南亚冶金学研究的第二个贡献。在伦敦大学学院Vincent C. Pigott教授、Marcos Martinón-Torres教授和Thilo Rehren教授，以及宾夕法尼亚大学博物馆的Pigott教授和曼谷Silpakorn大学考古学系的Ajarn Surapol Natapintu的共同指导下，我的博士论文研究是针对泰国中部“Khao Wong Prachan Valley”的铜生产遗址群进行的泰国冶金考古项目。在工作中，我采用了“伦敦大学学院冶金学校”成熟理论和实验方法，并论证了在二次生产(铸造)活动中表现出来的技术技能与初级生产(冶炼)行为中明显的实验阶段之间的显著差异。因此，早期泰国中部的冶金学家对金属生产技术只有部分的了解，这与公元前三千纪晚期的塞伊玛–图尔宾诺冶金传统已到达泰国的观点相悖——不过，我重复一遍，按照梅建军教授的模式，这是冶金到达中国西部新疆，进而到达中原地区的原始传输途径，这一点已被广泛接受。只是，中国第一批金属与东南亚大陆有几千公里、大约6-8个世纪的时空差距，更不用说它们迥异的社会形态和技术能力了。
我的博士后研究遵循了一个逻辑步骤，我们能否重建东南亚非贵金属/有色金属的交换模式，能否从单纯的研究矿源和冶炼遗址转移到探究合金化、再循环及消费行为。这对于一个缺乏(现在仍然缺乏)广泛认同的陶器序列进行区域比较的地区来说是必不可少的。同位素分析与元素、金相学和类型学研究相结合的冶金考古方法，在任何方面都不具有开创性—事实上，这种方法的强大之处在于，它在过去60年里在全世界得到了广泛的检验。在东南亚，我也不是第一个使用这种技术的人，这样的荣誉应归于20世纪80年代与泰国冶金项目合作的Tom Chase博士和20世纪90年代与日本领导的发掘工作合作的Yoshimitsu Hirao教授。我的研究项目“东南亚铅同位素计划”（SEALIP）主要的不同之处在于，作为一位专门从事区域冶金工作的考古冶金学家，我可以从生产地到消费地，从不同类型、地点和时期进行广泛的取样，以获得所代表的相互作用领域的广泛了解。
我之所以说“开始”，是因为我们面对的是一片广阔的区域，考古学上对这片区域的探索很少，从金属学的角度来看，这片区域的探索更少。相应的地理空间，比如欧洲和近东，有几万个分析结果，而我们的大约是1千多 。 东南亚和邻近地区的地质情况也非常复杂，这意味着无疑有许多未知的生产地，它们所代表的种群仍然存在于东南亚和中国南部的高地地区，威廉 · 申德尔将这一地带命名为“Zomia”，詹姆斯 · 斯科特这一概念予以推广。中缅边境长2500多公里，其中缅甸和云南之间约1600公里。当然，有大量的合作工作要做，我对目前正在建立并已经存在于区域内和区域间的研究网络非常乐观。对我来说，这确实是一个很好的工作场所，作为开拓者的感觉是充满活力的。
托马斯·普莱思于1998-2001年在伦敦大学学院获得考古学理学学士学位，并于2003-2004年在谢菲尔德大学获得考古学材料理学硕士学位。普莱思于2005-2008年在伦敦大学学院获得东南亚考古学博士学位，并在文森特·C·皮戈特教授和马科斯·马丁·托雷斯教授的指导下，于2009-2012年在牛津大学艺术史和考古学研究实验室获得获得莱弗里休姆信托基金会艺术史与考古学研究实验室的早期职业奖学，在此期间，他被选为圣休学院的杰出成员。普莱思在老挝万象工作了9个月，在法国发展研究所担任高级博士后研究员，2013年10月被聘为二级终身研究员。2017年10月晋升为一级研究员。普莱思自2009年起担任“东南亚铅同位素项目”负责人，自2012年10月起担任法国在缅甸的考古任务负责人。普莱思目前是国家研究资助项目“铜和玻璃作为东南亚早期文化催化剂和追踪剂 – 布罗格拉西2016-2020”的负责人。普莱思为10名学生提供了成功完成硕士学位的辅导，并有来自欧洲和亚洲国家的4名在职博士生和1名已完成学业（现为讲师）的博士生。
The appearance, nature and, in particular, the relative chronology of early human experimentation with and mastery of metallurgy has been a topic that has much occupied the minds of many of our archaeological forebears. This academic interest has long been derived from the well-established contemporaneity, and the strong potential for causality, between metal use and production and rapidly increasing social complexity at the turn of the Neolithic/Chalcolithic/Bronze Age, in the Near Eastern cultural contexts in which the phenomenon was first remarked upon around a century ago, notably by V. Gordon Childe.
The intervening decades have seen this potential association, between early metallurgy and developing social elite groups and behaviours, examined in many regions around the world, and Southeast Asia has been no exception. Being one of mankind’s most technically complex technologies (depending on geological affordances as well as human skillsets), metallurgy has also been a type-marker for identifying potential interactions of varying intensities between populations spanning great expanses of space and time. Some of these interaction spheres, especially that of the late 3rd millennium BC Seima-Turbino phenomenon, as advocated by E.N. Chernykh, extend from the Gulf of Finland to the Altaï mountains and beyond into China, in the course of just a few centuries. This remarkable and widely-accepted model for the transmission of a well-developed configuration of metallurgical behaviours, has attracted special attention in Southeast Asia, which, positioned at the eastern terminus of the Eurasian continent and the boundary with the Pacific Ocean, could theoretically represent an end point of 8000+ kilometers of terrestrial socio-technical networks.
Testing this idea, and those that preceded it in Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA), namely the publication of very early, 4th millennium BC, dates for regional copper metallurgy is an important exercise. Not only is there the question of Southeast Asia’s role with respect to Eurasia generally, there is the much more focussed issue of Sino-Southeast Asian interactions in late prehistory. Testing these ideas must start with data, and those of the highest quality possible. My involvement in this endeavour extends over fifteen years, but is built upon a half century of scholarship by a host of senior colleagues, among whom some are indisputably pre-eminent. My contribution, for which I am greatly honoured to have been so acknowledged by the Shanghai Archaeology Forum, has been in two parts, those of archaeometallurgy and Myanmar prehistory. There has been a great deal of fortuitous happenstance thus far in my career, and it is the confluence of these research streams that has enabled my role in research in early Southeast Asian metallurgy and on the nature of exchanges with contemporary China and India. As to my role at this juncture, I humbly submit that I have been a producer and provider of data with which to test the hypotheses of my seniors (in alphabetical order: Roberto Ciarla, Charles Higham, Vincent Pigott and Joyce White), to expose potential subtle modifiers and to emphasise their great foresight.
Establishing the chronology of early Southeast Asian metallurgy has obviously relied upon the provision of reliable radiometric dating. After shaky beginnings in the 1960s and 1970s, this now considerable database, which is still largely confined to northeast and central Thailand, does not share the critical land boundary with present-day China with which we can directly test technological transmission models. North Vietnamese Bronze Age chronologies remain unclear and it is not yet apparent whether northern Laos even has a Bronze Age (though I emphasise that this is my personal opinion). Nevertheless, the last ten, and even five years, have seen enormous strides in firmly establishing the Mainland (Thai) Neolithic to Bronze Age transition in the later centuries of the 2nd millennium BC. The primary impact of absolute dating has been to disassociate regional copper production and consumption from the Seima-Turbino phenomenon; there are simply too many centuries between that cultural horizon and the first metal-bearing Thai contexts.
My, as yet limited, contribution to the mass of chronological data has been to incorporate new archaeological information from north-central Myanmar, where I have had the honour to direct the Mission Archéologique Française au Myanmar since late 2012. This collaboration between the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Department of Archaeology and National Museum (DANM) of the Myanmar Ministry for Religious Affairs and Culture (MoRAC), has succeeded in providing a baseline Neolithic to Bronze Age horizon at the critical settlement and funerary complex at Oakaie/Nyaung’gan, near the banks of the lower Chindwin River. This Myanmar chronology, based on a nationally unprecedented 52 AMS 14C dates, shows a transmission in or around the 10th c. BC. This can be considered highly consistent with what we know from northeast and central Thailand, as well as that in the geographically much closer metal-bearing contexts of Yunnan. The Myanmar-French team has now been digging at the UNESCO listed “Pyu” historic city site of Halin since 2017. We are mainly tackling the extensive prehistoric strata but we seem to have a potential chronological window spanning the mid-3rd millennium BC to the early 2nd millennium AD. Our multi-national team, who will be digging an Iron Age (late 1st millennium BC) cemetery as I make my presentation in Shanghai, are currently awaiting another 40 radiocarbon dates, in addition to the circa 30 we already have for Halin. A radiometrically-founded culture-history for north-central Myanmar is being built, one testpit/date/analysis at a time, and as the most northerly excavation in Mainland Southeast Asia, our results concern Yunnan and NE India as much as they do the main core of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. I take this opportunity to give my sincere thanks to His Excellency Thura U Aung Ko, Minister for MoRAC, U Kyaw Oo Lwin, Director-General for the DANM, and to His Excellency M. Christian Lechervy, French Ambassador to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, for their combined and unstinting support.
The second element of my contribution to research in early Southeast Asian metallurgy as a technical specialist in regional archaeometallurgy. Under the supervision of Prof. Vincent C. Pigott, Prof. Marcos Martinón-Torres and Prof. Thilo Rehren at University College London, I conducted my doctoral study of the central Thai “Khao Wong Prachan Valley” copper production assemblage of the Thailand Archaeometallurgy Project (“TAP”), co-directed by Prof. Pigott of the University of Pennsylvania Museum and Ajarn (‘teacher’) Surapol Natapintu, then of the Thai Fine Arts Department and subsequently of the Faculty of Archaeology of Silpakorn University, Bangkok. For my work I employed the well-established theoretical and laboratory approaches of the ‘UCL metallurgy school’, and, I argue demonstrated a striking difference between the technical skill apparent in secondary production (foundry) activities and an evident experimental phase to primary production (smelting) behaviours. Ergo, the early central Thai metallurgists possessed but a partial knowledge of metal production technologies, which is contrary to the late 3rd millennium BC Seima-Turbino metallurgical tradition having reached Thailand – although, I repeat, Prof. Mei Jianjun’s model that this is the original transmission pathway for metallurgy to have reached Xinjiang Province of western China and thence to the Central Plains is widely accepted. It is just that there is a gap of several thousand kilometres and some 6-8 centuries between the first metals in China and Mainland Southeast Asia, and that is without mentioning their profoundly different social configurations and technical competence.
My post-doctoral research followed the next logical step; could we reconstruct Southeast Asian non-precious/non-ferrous metal exchange patterns, moving from the mines and smelting sites, to alloying and recycling and consumption behaviours? This was essential in a region that lacked, and still lacks, widely agreed-upon ceramic sequences for regional comparisons. The archaeometallurgical methodology using Lead Isotope Analysis combined with elemental, metallographic and typological research, was not in any way ground breaking – indeed, the great strength of this approach is how robustly it has been tested around the world over the last 60 years. Neither was I the first to employ such techniques in Southeast Asia, to whom the honour goes to Dr Tom Chase, working with TAP in the 1980s, and to Prof. Yoshimitsu Hirao, working with Japanese-led excavations in the 1990s. The main difference with my research programme, the “Southeast Asian Lead Isotope Project” (SEALIP) is that I was an archaeometallurgist dedicated exclusively to regional metallurgy, working outwards from the production to the consumption sites and sampling widely from many typologies, sites and periods to gain a broad picture of the interaction sphere thus represented.
Given the lack of or difficult access to geological data in Southeast Asia, SEALIP began by establishing lead isotope variability existing between the three known prehistoric copper production sites. Without being able to differentiate copper from these loci and their producer populations, there would be no point continuing with the project. Luckily, we have excellent lead isotope distinction, and also the luck to work at a time when local authorities were once again much more receptive to micro-destructive sampling techniques. I cannot possibly list here all the kind colleagues, site directors, museum curators, cultural authorities, laboratory technicians and funding bodies who have helped progress SEALIP research to the stage we are at now, but suffice to say the total sampling is now ca. 1000 artefacts (metals and production materials) from dozens of late prehistoric and early historic sites in: Sri Lanka, India, Cambodia, China, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar. It has been an enormous team effort, and it is beginning to bear fruit.
I say ‘beginning’ as we are dealing with vast areas that are only scantily explored archaeologically, and even less so from a metals perspective. Equivalent geographic spaces, like Europe and the Near East combined, have several tens of thousands of analyses, against our circa 1000+. Southeast Asia, and neighbouring regions, are also geologically highly complex, meaning there are without doubt many unknown production sites, and the populations they represent, remaining to be found in the upland zones of Southeast Asian and Southern China, named “Zomia” by Willem van Schendel and popularised by James C. Scott. The China/MSEA border extends over 2500 km, of which circa 1600 km lie between Myanmar and Yunnan. There is, surely, a huge amount of collaborative work to be done and I am hugely optimistic about the research networks currently building and already existing both intra and inter-regionally. This is truly a wonderful place to work and the pioneer sensation is alive and well, for me at least.
In the meantime, so as not to ‘take the wind out of the sails’ of my presentation, SEALIP, and its French Agence National de la Recherche-funded successor, “Bronze and Glass as Cultural Catalysts and Tracers in Early Southeast Asia” (BROGLASEA, with Dr Laure Dussubieux responsible for the glass aspect) have established archaeometrically reliable links between all of areas of Mainland and Island Southeast Asia, over a period spanning over two millennia. In many instances, these exchange networks were unexpected or even counter-intuitive. They have also helped lock together a regional chronology where great disparities exist between the dating quality of different sites. Put simply, after 15 years of personal efforts and decades by colleagues, I really think we’re beginning to get at the truth of the matter of early Southeast Asian metallurgy and its local, regional and long-distance impact for socio-cultural developments.
Oliver Pryce undertook his BSc Archaeology at University College London 1998-2001 and his MSc Archaeomaterials at Sheffield University 2003-2004. Pryce’s PhD in Southeast Asian archaeometallurgy at University College London 2005-2008, under the direction of Prof. Vincent C. Pigott and Prof. Marcos Martinón-Torres, led to a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship at the Research Laboratory for Art History and Archaeology, University of Oxford 2009-2012, during which time he was elected an Extraordinary Member of St Hugh’s College. Oliver Pryce spent nine months based in Vientiane, Laos, as a Senior Post-Doctoral Fellow for the French Institute de Recherche pour le Développement before being recruited as a tenured Researcher 2nd class in October 2013. He was promoted to 1st class Researcher in October 2017. Pryce has been director of the Southeast Asian Lead Isotope Project since 2009 and the French Archaeological Mission in Myanmar since October 2012. Pryce is currently Director of the Agence Nationale de la Recherche-funded project, Bronze and Glass as Cultural Catalysts and Tracers in Early Southeast Asia – BROGLASEA 2016-2020. Pryce has tutored ten students to the successful completion of the their Masters and has four current and one completed (now a lecturer) PhD students, from European and Asian countries.
Pryce has coordinated his archaeometallurgical research with dozens of colleagues from and excavating sites in: Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. In addition to the archaeological science laboratories used during his training at UCL and Sheffield, and as a postdoc in Oxford, Pryce has worked closely with Prof. Pernicka of the Curt-Engelhorn-Centre for Archaeometry in Mannheim, Germany ; Prof. Philippe Dillmann of Laboratoire Archéomatériaux et Prévision de l’Altération: LMC IRAMAT UMR5060 CNRS et NIMBE UMR3685 CEA/CNRS, France; and Dr Christophe Cloquet of the Petrography and Geological Research Centre in Nancy, France.