The Phi Mai Prasat

On our day off we visited the Phi Mai Prasat, in the nearby town of Phi Mai. This is a temple of the vintage of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. (That famous temple was only 250 kilometers away, but inaccessible except by a circuitous route back to Bangkok and through Phnom Phen.)

Principal Investigator Charles Higham (right) was our guide and introduced us to Jayavarman, who caused the temple to be built.

The prasat is impressive (though miniscule in comparison with Angkor Wat) and its existence is the roundabout reason that Charles Higham and all are studying the iron age burials in places such as Noen u Loke.
The Angkor civilization is twelve hundred years more recent than the burials we were studying - but there's very little evidence of civilization in the area in those years.
Not only are the iron age sites being studied for information about the peoples of that time, they're being looked at to try to find evidence of more RECENT civilizations, between their time and the time of the Indian-influenced Angkor civilization.
In this part of Thailand, more than anywhere I've ever been, I feel a total disjunction between what WAS long ago, and what IS today, and what happened in between.

The study of the Origins of Angkor is an attempt to fill in the gaps in the history of the peoples of that region, with the hope that someday the history can be returned to the Thais as their pots, reconstructed, and the bones from their burials, analyzed and cleaned, will be.

Clare Durst