Journal article

RADIOCARBON DATES FROM JAR AND COFFIN BURIALS OF THE CARDAMOM MOUNTAINS REVEAL A UNIQUE MORTUARY RITUAL IN CAMBODIA'S LATE- TO POST-ANGKOR PERIOD (15TH-17TH CENTURIES AD)

Nancy Beavan, Sian Halcrow, Bruce McFadgen, Derek Hamilton, Brendan Buckley, Tep Sokha, Louise Shewan, Ouk Sokha, Stewart Fallon, John Miksic, Richard Armstrong, Dougald O'Reilly, Kate Domett, KR Chhem

RADIOCARBON | UNIV ARIZONA DEPT GEOSCIENCES | Published : 2012

Abstract

We present the first radiocarbon dates from previously unrecorded, secondary burials in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. The mortuary ritual incorporates nautical tradeware ceramic jars and log coffins fashioned from locally harvested trees as burial containers, which were set out on exposed rock ledges at 10 sites in the eastern Cardamom Massif. The suite of 28 14C ages from 4 of these sites (Khnorng Sroal, Phnom Pel, Damnak Samdech, and Khnang Tathan) provides the first estimation of the overall time depth of the practice. The most reliable calendar date ranges from the 4 sites reveals a high- land burial ritual unrelated to lowland Khmer culture that was practiced from cal AD 1395 to 165..

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Grants

Awarded by Australian Research Council (ARC)


Funding Acknowledgements

We first would like to thank the 4 anonymous reviewers who provided the insightful comments that greatly improved the original manuscript. We also extend our thanks to Prof Gordon Cook of SUERC who provided the replicate dating of coffin wood, and Dr Quan Hua (ANSTO) for advice on the application of the Southern Hemisphere <SUP>14</SUP>C correction with appropriate offsets. Dr Eve Zucker provided useful information on highland funeral practices from her 2003 ethnological field notes for the Cardamoms. Dr Rodger J Sparks provided insights on dating and stable isotope issues. Mr Somreth Siphouen generously shared his Master's thesis proposal for information on the survey of the jar and coffin burial sites in 2000. We thank Geraldine Jacobson at the ANSTO Sample Preparation Laboratory and Kelly Strzepek at the ANU Sample Preparation Laboratory. We acknowledge the assistance provided since 2004 from the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts Department of Archaeology and Prehistory, and especially thank Their Excellencies Him Chhem, Ouk Sophon, and Hap Touch, as well as Mr Ham Kimson, Mr Heng Sophady, and Mr Voeun Vuthy. Vital helicopter and field support came from Ms Suwanna Gauntlet, CEO of WildLife Alliance (Cambodia), and Mr Prom Heong of the Chi Phat Community-Based Ecotourism program. Funding for the original 2003 expedition to the Cardamom jar and coffin sites was provided by National Geographic Television. Subsequent years of fieldwork and AMS dating were funded by the University of Sydney Research and Development Fund (2007), an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant (DP0984968; 2008/11), the University of Otago Medical School (2010-2011), and The Ragano Family Trust (2010-2011).