Southeast Asia and the West

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Science  25 Aug 1967:
Vol. 157, Issue 3791, pp. 896-902
DOI: 10.1126/science.157.3791.896


Traditional reconstructions of the prehistory and early history of Southeast Asia contain two periods of contact between Southeast Asia and the West, these being the beginnings of the so-called Dongson Culture and the first historic state of Funan. There has been controversy as to whether the Western contacts which gave rise to the "Dongson Culture" came directly to north Vietnam around 800 B.C. or whether they were filtered through Chou China and reached north Vietnam about 300 B.C. In either case, primarily decorative patterns, ultimately from the European Bronze and Early Iron Age, and bronze-working came in together. The "Dongson" patterns spread over much of Southeast Asia and are still being used today in some areas. Research by historians and geographers indicated that the Kingdom of Funan existed somewhere in coastal Mainland Southeast Asia. From this work it was apparent that Funan was in some way connected with the trade between China and the West during the first millennium A.D. up until the end of Funan around 600 A.D. In both of these models of contact Southeast Asians were the passive recipients of whatever came from the West.