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Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 12, pp 6473–6484 | Cite as

The wet and the dry, the wild and the cultivated: subsistence and risk management in ancient Central Thailand

  • Jade d’Alpoim GuedesEmail author
  • Sydney Hanson
  • Charles Higham
  • Tom Higham
  • Thanik Lertcharnrit
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Archaeobotanical Progress in South and South East Asia

Abstract

Increasing the productivity and yield of rice in Central Thailand has been a key focus of international and local government policy. Efforts have centered around producing a second winter season of irrigated rice. However, a series of droughts in the region have led to widespread crop failure. We carry out a re-evaluation of weather station and environmental data and combine this with new information from a key archeological site in Central Thailand, Phromthin Tai, whose occupation covers a long and critical period of Thai prehistory. Based on these data, we argue that farmers in the area employed an adaptive and resilient agricultural and wild-plant-food-based subsistence system that was adapted to the region’s high variability in rainfall. This subsistence system bridged the divide between the wild and cultivated and between wet and dry farming. The temporal and spatial diversity inherent in this system makes it vulnerable to destruction by agricultural policies that focus singly on improving yields.

Keywords

Rain-fed farming Thailand Yield gaps Wild plant foods Weeds 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thanik Lertcharnrit is grateful to the support from the Thailand-United States Educational Foundation and the Fulbright foundation which supported a research visit to Washington State University. We thank the staff of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at the University of Oxford for their careful laboratory work. We are grateful to the comments from two anonymous reviewers whose detailed comments helped improve this manuscript.

Supplementary material

12520_2019_794_MOESM1_ESM.docx (482 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 482 kb)
12520_2019_794_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (133.3 mb)
ESM 2 (PDF 136475 kb)
12520_2019_794_MOESM3_ESM.docx (85 kb)
Table S1 Uncalibrated Radiocarbon Dates of charred Oryza sp. seeds and analytical data. PCode describes the chemical pretreatment applied to prepare the samples for AMS dating; ZR denotes the use of acid-base-acid preparation, whilst RR refers to a modified version without the base and including ultrasonication in UP water. Yields refer to the amount of insoluble residue following chemistry. %C is the amount of carbon remaining after combustion on the elemental analyser before graphitisation. Radiocarbon dates are calculated after Stuiver and Polach (1977). (DOCX 85 kb)
12520_2019_794_MOESM4_ESM.xlsx (21 kb)
Table S2 Total counts and finds of archaeobotanical material derived from the site. (XLSX 21 kb)

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of OceanographySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  3. 3.Department of Anthropology and ArchaeologyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  4. 4.Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, RLAHAUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  5. 5.Department of ArchaeologySilpakorn UniversityBangkokThailand

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