I. Prehistoric Times > M. Later Old World Prehistory (3000 B.C.E. and Afterward) > 6. Asia > d. Southeast Asia
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
d. Southeast Asia
 
Rice cultivators flourished throughout Southeast Asia by 3000 B.C.E. Bronze technology came into widespread use in about 1500 B.C.E. The Dong Son culture of Vietnam represents the culmination of bronze working and ironworking in prehistoric times. Co Loa near Hanoi was a fortified and moated settlement, ruled by local chieftains called Lac Lords, Keepers of the Drums. Intensive rice cultivation, use of the plow, and careful water control produced enormous food surpluses. The region became part of a Chinese protectorate in 43 C.E.  1
For centuries, Southeast Asia was dominated, at least tangentially, by two foreign presences—China to the north and India to the south. By the time of Christ, southerly towns were being incorporated into the oceanic trade routes that stretched from China in the east to the shores of the Red Sea and the east coast of Africa in the west. No one people controlled this vast trade, another nascent “world system,” like that of the Mediterranean and Classical worlds.  2
Beyond India, Indian merchants traded as far as the South China Sea and with tribal societies of the mainland and islands. Metal and spices were the big attractions. Within a few centuries, kingdoms appeared with governments run according to Hindu or Buddhist ideas of social order. Eventually, these tribal chieftains became divine kings. Expanding mercantile empires like Funan in Vietnam's Mekong Delta dominated long-distance trade between the 3rd and 6th centuries C.E. Funan was the first of the great Southeast Asian civilizations.  3
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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