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Laos Prehistory & Austro-Thai Migration

The Mekong River valley and the Korat Plateau, which encompass substantial parts of Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, were inhabited as long as 10.000 years ago. Although data on these prehistoric cultures is limited, evidence shows that production of bronze and glazed ceramics began here earlier than elsewhere in the world.

The Mekong River valley and the Korat Plateau, which encompass substantial parts of Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, were inhabited as long as 10.000 years ago. Although data on these prehistoric cultures is limited, evidence shows that production of bronze and glazed ceramics began here earlier than elsewhere in the world.

Many ethnic groups in these areas, both indigenous and immigrant belong to the Austro-Thai linguistic family. In Laos, most of these subgroups are identified with the Thai-Kadai and Hmong-Mien (Miao-Yao) linguistic families. The Thai-Kadai, have historically comprised the most significant cultural Diaspora from Southern China and Eastern Tibet to South-East Asia.

The predecessors of the current Lao came south during periodic migrations along several geo-graphic lines. A linguistic map of southern China, North-western India and South-East Asia shows clearly that the main access routes of the Thai subgroups (usually referred to as ?Tai? by scholars) into what is now Laos and Thailand, were river valleys: from the Red River (Yuan Jiang) in Southern China and Vietnam to the Brahmaputra River in Assam and Northeastern India. Areas lying between these points were intermediate migrational zones and far less populated.

One such intermediate zone was The Mekong River valley dividing Thailand and Laos. Others were the Nam Ou, Nam Seriang and other river valleys in modern day Laos. Linguistic and anthropological evidence indicates that Austro-Thai peoples in southern China and North Vietnam began migrating southward and westward in the 8th century AD. These groups established local administrations according to their traditional system. Meuangs were districts ruled by a Jao Meuang , a hereditary position. The Tai people preferred basing their meuangs in river valleys, sometimes grouping into loose alliances. Around them, in roughly concentric circles, developed small vassal states known as monthon, from the Sanskrit Mandela. One of the largest of these early alliances of monthons developed in the region of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam. Sikhotabong, situated on the Lao side of the Mekong near present day Tha kaek, was one of the first known monthons.

 
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