Tracing Personal Ornaments: A Minero-Petrographic Study to Source the Manufacture and Distribution of Stone Bangles Found at Ban Non Wat, Thailand
Marble bangles are a type of personal ornament characteristic of the Bronze Age in Southeast Asia. They are generally recovered from contexts dating c.3000–2500 years ago. While common finds, many questions remain: where did they come from, how were they made, and by whom? Determining the provenance of geological artefacts involves many elements, each of which has their own importance. The aim of this study is to determine a route for bangle stone between Ban Non Wat, Thailand, and the closest geological source. Through analysis of the visible characteristics of a selection of ‘marble bangles’ from Ban Non Wat, the material type of the stone bangle is first determined to be either marble or limestone. These are then compared with the results from previous chemical analysis undertaken on the bangles. Chemical analysis of the bangles determined that the stone was all from one source, and analysis on samples from local quarry sites showed the possibility of the stone originating from Ban Rai quarry in the southwest corner of the Khorat Plateau. The analysis from the visible characteristics of this quarry further established the possible link between Ban Rai and Ban Non Wat as most samples from this site were identified as marble. This analysis made it possible to rule out certain areas of Thailand, or South East Asia, from which the bangle stone may have been sourced. This data in combination with relevant palaeoenvironmental, geological and archaeological data was used to create a model of potential areas in Southeast Asia and southern China from which the bangles could have been sourced. The results of this analysis showed that there are three possible sources of bangle stone within reach of the Khorat Plateau. Each of these sources had potential trade routes either overland or by waterways. Control and manufacture of the trade is dependent on which of these sources the bangle stone came from.
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