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Prehistory of Myanmarpré


from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prehistory_of_Burma 111111

A compilation by U Kyaw Tun (UKT) (M.S., I.P.S.T., USA), and staff of Tun Institute of Learning (TIL). Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR : 
- http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com

index.htm | |Top

Contents of this page

1. Pre-migration period
1.1. Timeline
1.2. Mesolithic age
1.3. Neolithic age
1.4. Bronze age
1.5. Iron age
2. Migrations
3. Pre-Pagan period
3.1. Pyu
3.2. Mon
3.3. Arakan
4. Pagan Kingdom
5. Wiki-prehist-footnotes
6. Wiki-prehist-references

UKT notes


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Various human species had lived in the region now known as Burma as early as 750,000 years ago or 700 BBE. They were replaced by or probably mixed with [1] Homo sapiens — the only surviving human species today [UKT -really? 'Migration' is a European idea! ] — in 70BBE 70,000 BC when they came across India to China. [2] However, evidences for the earliest human settlements are not yet discovered. Current archeological evidence dates the settlements at about 11,000 BC in the caves of Padah-Lin, which depicts Neolithic culture. [3] They further advanced to Bronze Age and to Iron age around 1,200 BC. These indigenous people, together with later migrating peoples formed mainstream of present day Burmese civilization.

The more recent migrations occurred during the third or fourth millennium BCE to last millennium BC. [4] Pyu, Mon, Rakhine came from various parts of South Asia. They brought cultural diffusions among indigenous people and resided in different parts of Burma — with Pyu at the center, Mon at the South, and Rakhine at the west. Mon, Rakhine and Karen peoples were believed to be the first identifiable civilizations in this area before arrival of Pyu peoples during the 2nd century BC.

By about 1500 BC, ironworks were in existence in the Irrawaddy [River] Valley followed by Iron age which began around 1200 BC. [5] About 500 BC, a rice-growing population was living in a densely settled various systems of small cities and large villages in the valleys of Upper Myanmar. [3] But Urban age probably did not emerge till the last century BC when advances in irrigation systems and the building of canals allowed for year long agriculture and the consolidation of settlements. [5] From the 2nd century BC to founding of Pagan Dynasty in 11th century AD, these peoples traded with India and dynasities of China including Han and Qin [dynasties]. These trades brought Buddhism and coinage which further spread to other South East Asian countries. [4]

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Pre-migration period

Homo erectus began to settle in Burma in 75,000 BC before the arrival of Homo sapiens from Africa. Homo sapiens is thought to have arrived to Burma as early as 70,000 years ago. [6] However, archaeological evidences before the 11th millennium are not yet discovered. The pre-migration period of Burma, spans from 11,000 BC to 4,000 BC before the mass migrations of Pyu, Mo and Arakhan from India and Tibet. This era is characterized by Stone age culture which later advanced to Bronze and Iron age cultures. The cave ritual system, which later used for Buddhism caves, is believed to have rooted in earliest civilization of this era. The effect can be seen today in many Buddhism ritual caves across Burma. [4]

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40 million year B.P.
Pondaungia cottelia (Poundaung Primate) Live in Pondaung area in Lower Chindwin district[7]

40-42 million years B.P.
Mogaungensis (Amphipothecus Primate) live in Mogaung village, Pale township in Sagaing Division and in Bahin village, Myaing township in Magwe Division.[7]

750,000-275,000 years B.P.
Lower Palaeolithic men of early Anyathian culture (Homo erectus) lived along the bank of the Ayeyawaddy river.

275,000-25,000 years B.P.
Lower Palaeolithic men of late Anyathian culture

70,000 BC
Homo Sapiens arrived Burma.

11,000 BC
Upper Palaeolithic men (Homo Sapiens) live in Badah-lin caves which situated in Ywagan township in southern Shan States.

7,000-2,000 BC
Neolithic men live in central Myanmar, Kachin State, Shan States, Mon State, Taninthayi Region, and along the bank of the Chindwin and Ayeyarwaddy rivers.

1500 BC
Earliest evidence of copper and bronze works, rice growing, domesticating chickens and pigs in Irrawaddy valley[8]

500 BC
Iron-working settlements south of present day Mandalay[8]

100 BC
Pyu people enter the Irrawaddy valley from north

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Mesolithic age

Roughly polished stone implements of various sizes are often found in the Shan States of eastern Burma.[4][9] Pebble tools, including choppers and chopping tools, are found in the Pleistocene terrace deposits of the Irrawaddy Valley of Upper Myanmar.[4] These complexes are collectively known as the Anyathians, thus, the culture is called the Anyathian culture. The Early Anyathian is characterized by single-edged core implements made on natural fragments of fossil wood and silicified tuff, which are associated with crude flake implements. However, domestications and polishing of stones, which are possible signs of Neolithic culture, are not known until the discovery of Padah Lin caves in Southern Shan State.[10]

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Neolithic age

The Neolithic or New Stone Age, when plants and animals were first domesticated and polished stone tools appeared, is evidenced in Burma by three caves located near Taunggyi at the edge of the Shan Plateau.[4] They are dated between 11,000 to 6,000 BC. The most importance of these is the Padah-Lin cave where over 1,600 of stones and cave paintings have been uncovered.[11] These paintings lie from ten to twelve feet above the floor level depicting figures in red ochre of two human hands, a fish, bulls, bisons, a deer and probably the hind of an elephant.[12] The paintings may be interpreted as an indication that the cave was used as a site for religious ritual. Thus, caves were among the earliest sites used for worshiping in Burma. This is of importance because the use of caves for religious purposes continued into later periods and may be seen as a bridge between the earlier non-Burmese, Animist period and the later Buddhist period.[4]

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Bronze age

The finding of bronze axes at Nyaunggan located in Shwebo township suggests that Bronze Age of Burma began around 1500 BC in parallel with the earlier stages of Southeast Asian bronze production.[13] This period spans from 1500 to 1000 BC during which knowledge of the smelting and casting of copper and tin seems to have spread rapidly along the Neolithic exchange routes.[14]

Another notable site is the area of Taungthaman, near Irrawaddy River within the walls of the 18th century capital, Amarapura, was occupied from the late Neolithic through the early iron age, around the middle of the first millennium BC.[4] Small trades, barters as well as Animism had already begun in this age.

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Iron age

Bronze and iron age cultures were found to be overlapping in Burma.[4] In this era, wealth was accumulating due to agriculture and to access to the copper resources of the Shan hills, the semi-precious stone and iron resources of the Mount Popa Plateau, and the salt resources of Halin. This wealth is evident in grave goods which includes items traded from Chinese kingdoms.[3] When burying their dead, their new affluence encouraged these people to include among the grave goods fine decorative ceramics produced by specialized potter artisans as well as the more common household objects such as bowls and spoons.[4]

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The mass migrations occurred during the third or fourth millennium BCE to last millennium BC.[4] Pyu, Mon, Rakhine came from various parts of South Asia. They brought cultural diffusions among indigenous people and resided in different parts of Burma — with Pyu at the center, Mon at the South, and Rakhine at the west. Mon, Rakhine and Karen peoples were believed to be the first identifiable civilizations in this area before arrival of Pyu peoples during the 2nd century BC.

The Pyu arrived in future Burma in the 1st century BCE or earlier and established city-kingdoms at Binnaka, Mongamo, Sri Ksetra, Peikthanomyo, Kutkhaing in the north, Halin gyi Thanlwin coastal line in the east, Gulf of Martaban and its coast in the south, Thandwe in the southern west and Yoma in the west.[15]

As early as 6th century, another people called the Mon began to enter the present-day Lower Burma from the Mon kingdoms of Haribhunjaya and Dvaravati in modern-day Thailand. By the mid 9th century, the Mon had founded at least two small kingdoms (or large city-states) centered around Pegu and Thaton.

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Pre-Pagan period

The Pre-Pagan period is the era when recent immigrants began to mix with indigenous peoples. This era is characterized by Urban age when the city states began to established. Most notable ancient cities were founded by Pyu and Mons during this era.

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Pyu refers to a collection of city-states and their language found in the central and northern regions of modern-day Burma (Myanmar) from 200 BC to 840 AD. The people of Pyu are believed to have been an ethnic group somewhat distinct from the Bamar (Burmans), although they may have intermarried with Sino-Tibetan migrants who later became part of the Bamar ethnicity. The Pyu, one of the founding fathers of the Bamar or Myanmar race, was believed to be the mixture of indigenous people and the Tibeto-Burman immigrants.[16]

The Pyu, settled around Pyay, and in the northwestern Ayeyarwaddy valley. Trace of their presence can be found in Sri Ksetra near Pyay, and in Beikthanoe in central Myanmar. From approximately 200 BC, Pyu people built a number of walled cities in central Burma, which are collectively known as Pyu city states whose plans consisted of rounded squares or rectangles which are often referred to as South East Asia indigenous creations.[4]

Pyu people practiced Animism before they contact with Indians thought trades and acquired Buddhism from them. The evidence of inscriptions [17] shows that their Buddhism was mixed up with Hindu Brahmanic cults, Vaisnavism in particular.[18] Eighth century Chinese records identify 18 Pyu states throughout the Irrawadddy valley, and describe the Pyu as a humane and peaceful people to whom war was virtually unknown and who wore silk cotton instead of actually silk so that they would not have to kill silk worms. The Chinese records also report that the Pyu knew how to make astronomical calculations, and that many Pyu boys entered the monastic life at seven to the age of 20.[16]

It was a long-lasting civilization that lasted nearly a millennium to early 9th century until a new group of "swift horsemen" from the north, the Mranma, (Burmans) entered the upper Irrawaddy valley. In the early 9th century, the Pyu city states of Upper Burma came under constant attacks by the Nanzhao Kingdom in present-day Yunnan. In 832, the Nanzhao sacked then Halingyi, which had overtaken Prome as the chief Pyu city state. A subsequent Nanzhao invasion in 835 further devastated Pyu city states in Upper Burma. While Pyu settlements remained in Upper Burma until the advent of the Pagan Empire in mid 11th century, the Pyu gradually were absorbed into the expanding Burman kingdom of Pagan in the next four centuries. The Pyu language still existed until the late 12th century. By the 13th century, the Pyu had assumed the Burman ethnicity. The histories/legends of the Pyu were also incorporated to those of the Burmans.[19]

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The earliest external reference to a Mon kingdom in Lower Burma was in 844-848 [AD?] by Arab geographers.[20] The Mon practiced Theravada Buddhism. The kingdoms were prosperous from trade. The Kingdom of Thaton is widely considered to be the fabled kingdom of Suvarnabhumi (or Golden Land), referred to by the tradesmen of Indian Ocean.

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According to legend, the first independent Arakanese kingdom was established in 3325 BC by King Marayu. Buddhism was introduced into Rakhine during the lifetime of Buddha himself. According to Rakhine Chronicles, the Buddha in his lifetime, visited the city of Dhanyawadi in 554 BC. King Sanda Thuriya requested the Buddha to leave an image of Himself.

UKT: Would the Gautama Buddha leave an image of himself? The question arose, because, the Buddha did not leave any images in India - so far not discovered. Why would he favour the Arakanese with one? It seemed that the Buddha would have his followers follow his 'Damma' or teachings rather than worship him as a god. I am asking this question with due respect to my Arakanese friends, and with due respect to my name-sake U Kyaw Dun - my father's Arakanese mentor. I was named after U Kyaw Dun but the name was changed by to Kyaw Tun to be in keeping with a child when I started to go school. - UKT111111


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Pagan Kingdom

The Burmans who had come down with the early 9th Nanzhao raids of the Pyu states remained in Upper Burma. Trickles of Burman migrations into the upper Irrawaddy valley might have begun as early as the 7th century.[21] More recent research indicates that the people of Nanzhao were Tibeto-Burman, and that the Burmans entered the Irrawaddy valley en masse in the 830s.) In 849, fourteen years after the last Nanzhao raid, Pagan was founded as a fortified settlement along a strategic location on the Irrawaddy near the confluence of the Irrawaddy and its main tributary the Chindwin.[22] It may have been designed to help the Nanzhao pacify the surrounding country side.[23] Over the next two hundred years, the small principality gradually grew to include its immediate surrounding areas— to about 200 miles north to south and 80 miles from east to west by Anawrahta's ascension in 1044.[24]

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01. ^ John Whitfield, Lovers or fighters

02. ^ Michael Petraglia, Tool tale

03. ^ a b c Bob Hudson, pp. 1

04. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Richard M. Cooler, 2003, NIU

05. ^ a b U Myint Thaung, pp.45

06. ^ Göran Burenhult, pp.5

07. ^ a b Britannica, Amphipithecus

08. ^ a b U Than Myint, pp.45

09. ^ U Aung Thaw, pp 15

10. ^ Britannica, Anyathian-complex

11. ^ U Aung Thaw, pp. 13

12. ^ U Aung Thaw, pp. 12

13. ^ Bob Hudson, pp. 2

14. ^ Bob Hudson, pp. 3

15. ^ Dr Than Tun , “The Story of Myanmar told in pictures”

16. ^ a b Hall, pp.8-10

17. ^ Luce, pp.121

18. ^ BURMA, D. G 1960. Page 16

19. ^ Myint-U, pp. 51–52}}

20. ^ Hall, pp. 11-12

21. ^ Maung Htin Aung, pp. 329

22. ^ Victor Lieberman, pp 88-112

23. ^ Myint-U, p. 56

24. ^ GE Harvey, pp.24-25



• John Whitfield (February 18, 2008). "Lovers, Not Fighters?". Scientific American.
. Retrieved 12 January 2011.

• Michael Petraglia (Sep 22, 2010). "Tool tale: Man came to India from Africa 80,000 yrs ago - The Times of India". India Times. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/Tool-tale-Man-came-to-India-from-Africa-80000-yrs-ago/articleshow/6604340.cms#ixzz1Aqh25HnK. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
• Richard M. Cooler (3 June 2003). "Prehistoric and Animist Periods". Northern Illinois University. http://www.seasite.niu.edu/burmese/cooler/Chapter_1/Chapter_1.htm. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
Thaw, U Aung (1969), "The ‘neolithic‘ culture of the Padah-Lin Caves", Journal of Burma Research Society 52 (1): 15, http://www.lib.washington.edu/myanmar/pdfs/AT0001.pdf
"Anyathian complex.", Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/29114/Anyathian-complex
Hudson, Bob (March 2005), "A Pyu Homeland in the Samon Valley: a new theory of the origins of Myanmar's early urban system", Myanmar Historical Commission Golden Jubilee International Conference, http://acl.arts.usyd.edu.au/~hudson/BH2005Jan.pdf
Burenhult, Göran (2000). Die ersten Menschen. Weltbild Verlag. ISBN 3-8289-0741-5.
Myint-U, Thant (2006), The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma, New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, ISBN 0-374-16342-1
Maung Htin Aung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press.
Victor B Lieberman (2003). Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800–1830, volume 1, Integration on the Mainland. Cambridge University Press. pp. 88–112. ISBN 978-0-521-80496-7.
GE Harvey (1925). History of Burma. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd.. pp. 24–25.
Luce, G. H. (1981). Burma's Debt to Pagan. Burma: Journal of the Burma Research Society. pp. 121 Vol. XXII.
Hall, D.G.E. (1960). Burma (3rd edition ed.). Hutchinson University Library. ISBN 978-1406735031

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UKT notes


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End of TIL file