The Mekong: seasonal migrations and the making of the Khmer Empire of Angkor

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


The location of pre-Angkorian archaeological sites in the main
course of the Mekong River Basin between Kratie (Cambodia) and
Champassak (Laos) has been attributed to local populations’ attempts to
control goods moving in and out of the hinterland based on Bronson’s
model of river hierarchies in Southeast Asia. These interpretations have
placed an emphasis on trade, in addition to rice cultivation, as a marker for
social complexity and wealth accumulation. In this presentation I will argue
that the location of these sites can be linked to fish resources, and that
social complexity can be similarly attributed to societal responses to
fisheries management, adding to an increasing list of examples of
convergence in cultural niche construction surrounding floodplain fishery
in tropical river environments. In doing so, the essay reviews two data sets
that are rarely used to discuss the selected archaeological material:
regional fish ecosystems and traditional ecological knowledge of fishing
practices among local communities. The study examines fish migration
patterns, and explores traditional fishing practices connected to the
systematic exploitation of the two main ecological niches linked to the
reproductive life of fish –flood plains and deep pools. The location of these
fishing grounds and the constraints that fishing resources impose on
people is discussed in relation to archaeological data and livelihood
activities related to fishing and fish processing. The discussion will then
explore similar examples of flood plain fisheries management in the
Amazon and Congo River Basins.
Period9 Jun 2022
Event titleInternational Congress for Underwater Archaeology
Event typeConference
Conference number7
LocationHelsinki, FinlandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational