SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

The emergence of "Funan": The role of trade between India and Southeast Asia during the first millennium AD

Alison Carter (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Date: 13 November 2013Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 13 November 2013Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B111

Type of Event: Seminar

In the first few centuries AD, Chinese visitors to the Mekong Delta described a kingdom called Funan that many scholars believe laid the foundations for the later Angkorian Empire. Interaction with and influence from India and South Asia is believed to have been a major factor for the emergence of this early state. However, the role that trade with India played has long been poorly understood. In this presentation, I discuss the results of my dissertation research examining early exchange networks through a study of an important trade goods from South Asia: stone and glass beads. These high-status objects were exchanged across mainland Southeast Asia and are primarily found in burial contexts. Through compositional andstylistic analyses of beads from Iron Age (500 BC - AD 500) sites in Cambodia and Thailand several distinct regional trading networks were identified. I argue that evidence for changing trade networks is related to an increase in trade with India and an expansion of power by elites in the Mekong Delta, leading to the emergence of the early state of Funan.

Organiser: Crispin Branfoot

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