The Kingdom of Thailand has a very long and rich history, dating back thousands of years to prehistoric times. Several empires and Kingdoms have ruled the country, leaving behind impressive landmarks and historical sites that still remain today.Thailand has been inhabited for thousands of years. The earliest inhabitants during prehistoric times were hunters and gatherers. Between the 20th and 15th century BC early man started basic forms of farming and village construction.
Ancient Buddhist structures:-The oldest Buddhist structure in Thailand is the Phra Pathom Chedi in Nakhon Pathom. The history of the chedi goes back to the time when Buddhism was introduced in South East Asian countries, including Thailand. In the 3rd century BC the Indian emperor Ashoka sent out monks over large parts of Asia to spread Buddhism. The monks brought with them relics from the Buddha, that were enshrined into the Phra Pathom Chedi.
Khmer monuments in Thailand:-Around 10 centuries ago when the Khmer empire controlled much of present day Thailand, a large number of Khmer temples were built, many of which remain in a well preserved state today.Ancient highways were built to connect Angkor, the center of the Khmer empire, with other parts of the empire. Along one of these roads from Angkor to Phimai are three of the most impressive and best preserved Khmer temples in Thailand, namely Phanom Rung, Muang Tum and Phimai.The Thai KingdomsSukhothai was the first independent Thai Kingdom. It reached its peak of power and prosperity during the 13th century. Today Sukhothai is a historical park containing a number of impressive landmarks. Sukhothai and its two sister cities, Si Satchanalai historical park and Kamphaeng Phet historical park are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Ayutthaya was one of the largest and richest cities in the world. Today the impressive remains of the city are well visited due to its location close to Bangkok. The Ayutthaya era came to an end in 1767, when most of the city was destroyed by Burmese invaders. The demise of Ayutthaya marked the start of the Rattanakosin era and the founding of Bangkok. The old part of Bangkok East of the Chao Phraya river was called Rattanakosin.The first Rattanakosin King had a number of canals dug out and forts built to protect the city. Among the first of Bangkok’s landmarks to be built were the Grand Palace, the Wat Arun with its impressive prang and the Wat Pho.
Ayutthaya:-The Ayutthaya Historical Park comprises of the ruins of temples and palaces of the capital of the ancient Ayutthaya Kingdom. The park is located on an island surrounded by three rivers where the old capital used to be.The Ayutthaya Kingdom, which existed from 1351 until 1767 was one of the largest and most prosperous empires of its time. The ruins of many impressive temples and palaces give an impression of the wealth of the ancient Kingdom.
Sukhothai:-The Sukhothai Historical Park contains the ruins of old Sukhothai, the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom that was founded in 1238.Dozens of well preserved and restored monuments dating back to the 13th until 15th centuries are found in a well maintained park like setting with lakes, ponds and trees. The park is much less visited than better known historical sites as Ayutthaya and Angkor.Sukhothai was the first independent Thai Kingdom, where Thai art and architecture developed into what is known as the Sukhothai style, influenced mainly by Khmer and Singhalese styles. Characteristic for the Sukhothai style are the lotus bud chedi and statues of a walking Buddha, the clothing draped around the body.
Kamphaeng Phet:-The Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park contains the ruins of the ancient town of Kamphaeng Phet, an important town in the Sukhothai Kingdom. The park that is little visited by foreign tourists contains monuments built during the 13th to 17th centuries by the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya empires.
Si Satchanalai:-Si Satchanalai Historical Park contains the ruins of the ancient town of Si Satchanalai, an important town in the Sukhothai Kingdom in the 13th and 14th century. The 45 km2 little visited park on the Yom river is set in a natural, forested area. Dozens of sites inside and outside of the old city walls have been excavated. A number of temples have been restored to their original glory.Si Satchanalai, together with the Historical Parks of its sister cities Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Si Satchanalai was a vassal town of Sukhothai, the capital of the empire located about 85 kilometers to the South.
Phu Phra Bat:-Phu Phra Bat historical park in Udon Thani province in the North East of Thailand is a forested hill with natural rock formations shaped as caves with large rocky overhangs. The caves were used by ancient man as shelter and as temples where Buddha images were enshrined.What makes this site unique, is that it contains traces of several different civilizations and cultures spanning thousands of years. The hill contains traces of prehistoric man, the Dvaravati period and Khmer presence.
Wiang Kum Kam:-Wiang Kum Kam is a historical site South of the town of Chiang Mai. The site contains the ruins of a 13th century fortified city encircled by moats. The ancient town was rediscovered by chance when local people dug up ancient votive tablets buried in the ground.Excavations of Wiang Kum Kam started in the 1980’s. The site was cleared of overgrowth and a number of monuments was partly restored by the Thai Fine Arts Department.The ancient rectangular town measures 850 meters long and 600 meters wide. Spread out over and area of several square kilometers inside and outside the town the remains of several dozens ancient monuments have been discovered. Traces of the ancient walls and moats remain.
Ban Chiang prehistorical site:-Ban Chiang is an archeological site where remains of human settlement during prehistoric times have been found. The site is located in Udon Thani province, in the North East part of Thailand.Ban Chiang is a prehistoric village and burial site inhabited probably from about 1500 BC until about 300 AD. The site provides evidence of transition from Neolithic age (no use of metals) into the bronze age and finally into the iron age.Settlement in Ban Chiang started during the Neolithic age when man was not yet capable of working with metals. The earliest graves did not contain any bronze or iron artifacts.The earliest settlers were probably rice farmers, as suggested by some of the finds at the site. Although the earliest datings suggested that settlement in Ban Chiang started during the 5th millennium BC, later datings using radiocarbon dating have shown that settlement in Ban Chiang started around 1500 BC, during the Neolithic age.
Ban Prasat prehistorical site:-Ban Prasat is a prehistoric site near the banks of the Than Prasat river in the small village of Ban Prasat, Nakhon Ratchasima province. About 3,000 years ago people settled the area. They grew rice and raised domesticated animals.The site was excavated in 1991 by the Thai Fine Arts Department. Three pits have been dug out. Burial sites containing a total of 60 graves were found where skeletons of male, female and children were unearthed as well as offerings buried with them. The oldest graves date back to the Bronze age, about 1,000 BC. The latest graves are from the Iron Age, which started around 500 BC. The dead were buried with offerings of pottery vessels and jewelry, such as shells and marble bangles.