Prehistoric Southeast Asia, as I use the term, consists of two parts.
The first is "Mainland Southeast Asia," which extends from the Ch'in Ling Mountains, north of the Yangtze River in China, to Singapore, and from the South China Sea westward through Burma into Assam.
The overwhelming nature of military events has obscured some astonishing discoveries about the ancient history and prehistory of the people who live there.
Yet in the long run these discoveries, primarily archeological, will affect--perhaps more than the war or its outcome--the way we think about the area and its people, and the way they think about themselves.
When they saw similarities in the architecture and aristocratic lifestyles of those countries and Southeast Asia, they assumed Indian and Chinese influence.Material excavated and analyzed during the past five years suggests that men were cultivating plants there, making pottery, and casting bronze implements as early as anywhere on earth. This is substantially earlier than such work in India or China, and possibly earlier than the first bronze cast in the Near East, where, until now, most experts have thought that bronze metalworking began.The evidence comes from archeological sites in northeastern and northwestern Thailand, with support from excavations in Taiwan, North and South Viet Nam, other areas in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and even from northern Australia. One may reasonably ask: If it is so important, why has Southeast Asia's role in prehistory remained unknown until now?Even the name they gave the area--Indochina--reflected this attitude.For purposes of prehistory, what we usually think of as Southeast Asia must be expanded somewhat to include related cultures.