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'Return artefacts to original site' - Ban Chiang

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'Return artefacts to original site'

Seksanti Kanlayanawisut,
Sittichai Sikhawat
The Nation

Ban Chiang items still under identification; locals worried they will be kept elsewhere

BANGKOK: -- BAN CHIANG locals are hoping that artefacts smuggled to the United States will finally be returned to the Ban Chiang Archaeological Site in Udon Thani's Nong Han district, which has been given World Heritage status.

"Now that they [the artefacts] are back in Thailand, they should be returned to their place of origin. We have cherished and conserved these artefacts," tambon Ban Chiang Municipality's deputy mayor Adisak Muenseelao said yesterday.

Dating back to around 1500BC, the Ban Chiang Archaeological Site is a prehistoric human habitation and burial site. It was the centre of a remarkable cultural, social, and technological evolution that occurred in this area, independent of other cultures in Southeast Asia.

Adisak said all ancient artefacts from the Ban Chiang civilisation must be kept at the Ban Chiang National Museum and nowhere else.

He was speaking after 557 Ban Chiang artefacts from the US-based Bowers Museum reportedly arrived in Bangkok on August 30. The US Office of the Attorney General had asked the museum to hand the items over to Thai authorities on grounds that the artefacts had been smuggled out of the Kingdom.

Thailand's Fine Arts Department and Customs Department are currently examining the items to determine if they are really Ban Chiang artefacts.

To date, relevant authorities have not mentioned any plan to send the artefacts to the Ban Chiang National Museum, and it is widely speculated that they will be kept at the Kanjanapisek National Museum in Pathum Thani province.

Nipakorn Klangprom, a souvenir seller in Ban Chiang area, said she was proud of the Ban Chiang civilisation and would be glad if all the artefacts were returned to their place of origin.

"This is the best and only place to keep the Ban Chiang items," she said.

New discovery

Meanwhile, relevant officials yesterday examined the recently discovered ancient cave and cliff paintings in Krabi province.

According to the Fine Arts Department, these paintings could be between 2,500 and 5,000 years old.

"We believe the spots where these ancient paintings were found can be developed as a tourist attraction," Ao Luek district chief Boonpas Raknui said.

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Return-artefacts-to-original-site-30242473.html

-- The Nation 2014-09-04

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Most, if not all, of the Ban Chiang artefacts to be seen in overseas museums were dug up and sold by local farmers. They have no archaeological context, so are of little value to archaeologists.

This is very different from the famous lintel from Phanomrung (which inspired an Ad Carabao song).... or the Elgin marbles!

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Few people seem to know that close (50KM) but not near to Ban Chiang are a number of other archaeological sites, with some great finds, still on display, dating from same time period

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It was the Americans who stole the Phanom Rung Narai lintel during the Vietnam war. It ended up in a Chicago museum. The Carabao song went 'Keep your Michael Jackson, give us back our lintel'.

Note to Carabao: Turns out we couldn't keep either.

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