Mystery of the Prehistoric Log Coffin Culture in Highland Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son Province. A Talk by Rasmi Shoocongdej



Mortuary practice is an important indicator of past ideology and its analysis can be developed by classifying burials into specific types, a method which can limit our understanding of mortuary variability, particularly the horizontal and vertical scales of social organization. Research in Highland Pang Mapha, Mae Hong Son province, on the Thai-Myanmar border, has revealed the unique features of log coffins placed on posts inside caves atop limestone cliffs.  The log coffin culture dates to 2,200-1,000 years ago and bears similarities with the hanging coffins of the extant local inhabitants, the Yue, who are associated with the Tai peoples of Yunnan, South China. This talk will present an overview of Log Coffin culture in Thailand in relation to China and Southeast Asia, through a cross-cultural approach. It will also examine the cemetery organization from the Ban Rai Rockshelter and Long Long Rak Cave sites of Highland Pang Mapha, through a temporal and spatial analysis of the archaeological evidence, to assess the stylistic approach and mortuary practice as units of analysis for the symbolic and cultural landscape, cemetery organization and social memory.  The resulting analyses will help our understanding of mortuary and social organization of ancient Highland communities and the complex interactions between South China and Southeast Asia.

Associate Professor Rasmi Shoocongdej holds a BA in Archaeology (Silpakorn University), a PhD in Anthropology (University of Michigan, USA) and currently directs graduate programs in Archaeology. Her areas of interest include late- to post-Pleistocene tropical foragers, Southeast Asian prehistory, cave archaeology and archaeologies in contemporary societies.  Her field experience includes Thailand, Cambodia, south-west USA and south-east Turkey.  In 2017 she received a Senior Research Grant from the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) and was selected as Centenary Fellow by SOAS-University of London. She is a member of numerous international organisations, including the International Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM) of ICOMOS, the National Geographic Society and the Committee of the Shanghai Archaeology Forum. Aj. Rasmi has served as senior representative for the Southeast Asian and the Pacific Region in the World Archaeological Congress Council and as executive member of Southeast Asian Prehistorian Association.  Website: http://www.rasmishoocongdej.com/

Date: Thursday, 14 June 2018
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 2017-2018 Lecture Series.