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Societal response to monsoonal fluctuations in NE Thailand during the demise of Angkor Civilisation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Geological Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Geological Sciences.
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Number of Authors: 7
2017 (English)In: The Holocene, ISSN 0959-6836, E-ISSN 1477-0911, Vol. 27, no 10, 1455-1464 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper investigates the possible social responses to changes in the strength of the southwest monsoon in northeastern Thailand during the currency of the Angkor civilisation. These assessments are based on hydrogen and carbon isotope records of leaf waxes (delta D-wax and delta 13C(wax)) from a 2000-year-long wetland sequence of Pa Kho in northeastern Thailand, a region that formed the northern boundary of the Angkor Kingdom. Our data indicate anthropogenic flooding of the Pa Kho wetland through the control of water through dam construction from c. AD 1300 in response to the fluctuating strength of monsoon rains. delta D-wax, a proxy for regional hydroclimate variability, corroborates pre-existing evidence that increased summer monsoon rains, which supported the expansion of the agrarian economy, aided the rise of the Angkorian Empire whereas extreme drought contributed to its demise. Interestingly, our delta D-wax record shows already a gradual decreasing monsoon intensity from c. AD 1000 onwards, although Angkor's prosperity reached its peak at c. AD 1200. We suggest that the complex hydrological system established under royal patronage at Angkor provided a resilient buffer against short-term monsoon fluctuations. The long-term decline in monsoon rains over a similar to 300-year period, combined with ongoing urbanisation, may have stretched the hydrological systems to their limit. We suggest that this was a major factor that contributed to the demise of Angkor in the mid-15th century.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 27, no 10, 1455-1464 p.
Keyword [en]
delta(13C)(wax), delta D-wax, Angkor Civilisation, Lake Pa Kho, northeast Thailand, Southeast Asia, wetland
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-148865DOI: 10.1177/0959683617693900ISI: 000412720200003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-148865DiVA: diva2:1159246
Available from: 2017-11-22 Created: 2017-11-22 Last updated: 2017-11-22Bibliographically approved

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Yamoah, Kweku AfrifaWohlfarth, BarbaraSchenk, FrederikSmittenberg, Rienk H.
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