Ancient Peninsular Siam and its Neighborhood. A Talk by Wannasarn Noonsuk


The Mountain-Linga (Linga Parvata), c. 5th-6th century, at Khao Kha Religious Complex, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, Southern Thailand.


This talk provides observations concerning socio-cultural development in Peninsular Siam and its significance in maritime Southeast Asia since the Iron Age.  This area between two oceans was an important link for the East-West maritime trade as well as a production hub of jewelry, tin and forest products since the late centuries BCE.  Among several principalities later developed in this isthmian tract, Tambralinga was an outstanding kingdom. Its material remains from the 5th century CE suggest that Hinduism was prominent and offered different artistic idioms from the Dvaravati expression of central Thailand in the same period.  In terms of social interaction, the distribution of Bronze drums indicates that the isthmian tract was part of the neighborhood of communities around the Gulf of Siam, which was a busy hub of trade and a large market with common vision.  It is likely that the ornaments produced at the sites such as Khao Sam Kaeo and Phukhao Thong were for the growing market in the Gulf and beyond to the east, rather than for India in the West.  The Vishnu images from this area may have been the prototypes of those in the Mekong Delta.  Perhaps similar to the Funan polity of the 1st- 6th centuries, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya in the 15th century launched military campaigns to the peninsula as an attempt to control the Gulf neighborhood.

Dr. Wannasarn Noonsuk is the Senior Specialist at SEAMEO SPAFA in Bangkok. Previously, he lectured on the PhD Program in Asian Studies and was the Head of the Archaeology Research Unit at Walailak University, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, Thailand. After a BA in Archaeology from Silpakorn University with the King Bhumibol Medal, in 2002 His Majesty the late King awarded him the Ananda Mahidol Scholarship for graduate studies. Dr. Wannasarn received his MA in Anthropology from the University of Hawai’i and a PhD in History of Art and Archaeology from Cornell University (USA) in 2012. Dr. Wannasarn was awarded post-doctoral studies at the École Française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO) in Paris, under the auspices of the French Government. He is the author of several books and journal articles on the Tambralinga Kingdom of Peninsular Siam and Maritime Southeast Asia in general, published by international titles including Asian Perspectives and the Bulletin of the EFEO.

Date: Thursday, 10 August 2017
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Place: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

Non-members donation: B200. Siam Society members, members’ spouses and children, and all students showing valid student ID cards are admitted free of charge. For more information, please contact Khun Arunsri or

Office Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9:00am. – 5:00pm.

The Siam Society is deeply grateful to the James H.W. Thompson Foundation for its generous support of the 2016-2017 Lecture Series.