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Digging deeper

By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-17 08:35
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Archaeologists clean bamboo slips excavated from the tomb of the Marquis Haihun in Nanchang, Jiangxi province.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Ancient trade networks

Another award-winning discovery unveiled at the forum reflects the booming international trade across the South China Sea around the time of the Marquis Haihun's reign.

In southern Thailand, Berenice Bellina, a researcher with the French National Centre for Scientific Research, has led studies on the Isthmus of Kra to learn more about the peak of the Maritime Silk Road. Excavations and surveys at 36 sites have unveiled the existence of previously little-known trade hubs in the region between the fourth and first centuries BC.

"They have already revealed the development of the complex urban and political models in the region, and an elaborate and organized economic network," Bellina says.

She adds that archaeological evidence has shown that a large volume of products from China and India were shipped to the region where they were redistributed-along with their production techniques.

A site called Khao Sam Kaeo became the earliest-known "cosmopolitan walled port city in Southeast Asia", according to Bellina.

"The Maritime Silk Road led to the emergence of complex polities and economic specialization," she says. "A pattern of globalization then resulted from the joint construction of the network of port cities and their multiethnic hinterlands."

However, the world's international trade began much earlier than that, as other awardees in Shanghai reflect. Going further back-millennia even-Kultepe, a city mound on the Turkish plateau of Anatolia, has emerged as a highlight of archaeological studies.

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