One find that excited the excavators at Ban Chiang were the small clay crucibles with spouts.
It was soon clear that these ordinary-looking artifacts had once been used to melt bronze, copper, and tin to cast objects in molds. But as the crucibles were studied in more detail they had a bigger story to tell: that Ban Chiang metalworkers had a sophisticated understanding of the ceramic materials they used for high-temperature melting and casting.
Following the Ban Chiang excavations, similar spouted and lagged crucibles were excavated at many village sites in northeast Thailand, indicating that the capability to cast copper-base artifacts was widespread and decentralized in prehistoric societies in Thailand; in other words, not under the control of an elite.
Read more about the process:
- “Chronological Variation in Crucible Technology at Ban Chiang” by William W. Vernon
- “Preliminary Cultural Implications from Initial Studies of the Ceramic Technology at Ban Chiang” by Joyce C. White, William Vernon, Stuart Fleming, William Glanzman, Ron Hancock, and Andrew Pelcin