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This Land of Dinosaurs: Part VI.

Man’s earliest true ancestor appeared on earth more than 2 million years ago, but it was not until 10,000 to 15,000 years ago that his descendants had peopled almost the entire globe. The first man known to have roamed beyond the continent of Africa was Homo erectus, who appeared about 500,000 years ago. During the 200,000 years of his existence, he moved around through Ethiopia, Yemen, Oman, South Persia, Pakistan, Central Bharata (India), Burma to reach Kanchanaburi and migrated to Baan Chiang that slowly spread to different directions. Sometime, somewhere __ the migration could go back to the same area and changed to the several other directions later on. Migrations depended on several factors __ geography, Climate, environment, food, living conditions, and their intelligence development.

From Pt.V.... The Khorm probably made a greater contribution to this region’s cultural and political development than any other people with the possible exception of the Morn. The two peoples had much in common and in many prehistory references the term Morn-Khorm is used to denote the people who first inhabited mainland South East Asia and institutionalised the agrarian culture, the sanskrit (สันสกฤต) based languages, the basic religion and the many art forms.
The Morn People

It is not known for certain where the Morn originated although they have been linked, without substantiation, to the Indian (“Maha-Bharata” was known in much earlier times) sub-continent, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Southern China. Ethnologists actually believe that the Morn originated in India or Mongolia or southwestern China and migrated south to the western banks of the Chao Praya river in the 1st century BC. It is known for certain, however, that Morn/Khorm peoples lived in the Red River delta area of what is now northern Vietnam from a very early date. People used ancient Morn language but unable to exactly identify the race of the population. There is evidence that this kingdom may have had more than one race, including Malays and Khorm. The term Dvaravati derives from coins which were inscribed in Sanskrit which means “she with many gates”.

Although archaeological finds have shown evidence that the Morn culture existed in Thailand as long ago as 3000BC it was not until after the demise of the Kingdom of Funan in the late 6th century that it becomes a focus of recorded history. This recorded civilization first appears in the Chao Praya valley and was given the Sanskrit title of Dvaravati, known today as the Morn Dvaravati Kingdom. The Dvaravati Morns and the Thatorn Mons of Lower Burma were expert sailors, ship builders and coastal sea-going traders maintaining direct links from India through the Bay of Bengal, Burma, Central Thailand, Southern China, Cambodia and south to the Malay Peninsula.

The Morn Dvaravati Kingdom was to flourish between the 7th and 11th centuries but does not appear to have had a single capital city. The Kingdom was then absorbed by the growing Lawo and Subharnabhumi Kingdoms. Excavations at the central Thai sites of Sri Thep, Pong Tuk and U-Thong have revealed these all to be Morn Dvaravati cities from the 6th century that became focal points for the dissemination of Hindu culture throughout the region. Politically Morn Dvaravati was a loose federation of states or mini Kingdoms who each enjoyed a high degree of autonomy whilst working together for the greater good. They were a highly civilized and peaceful people of many races, cultures and tribes but the diverse kingdom shared a philosophy, religion and culture that held it together.

The adoption of Buddhism by the peoples of South East Asia is an integral landmark in the history of this region. Through its close links with Ceylon, clearly demonstrated in the Hindu Maravati artistic style of many artefacts that have been found, Morn Dvaravati was responsible for bringing Theravada Buddhism to South East Asia at some time prior to the 8th century. The two main Morn centres at this time were Lawo, present day Lopburi, and Nakorn Pathom. Nakorn Pathom, derived from the Pali meaning First City, is thought to have been the point of entry of Buddhism into what is now Thailand and it is still home to the country’s holiest chedi and Buddhamonthon, the country’s most important Buddhist sanctuary and home of its supreme patriarch.

A map of the Morn Dvaravati Kingdom and pictures of artifacts from that time.

Among other accomplishments, the Morn have been credited with introducing the irrigated wet-rice farming system to South East Asia. This was a major advance in civilization that should not be underestimated and made repeated annual use of the same land possible largely replacing the nomadic slash and burn techniques that had prevailed previously.

In the early 9th century the Morn ruler of Lopburi sent his daughter north where she founded the Buddhist dominated Morn state of Haripoonchai, modern-day Lamphun (Lumpoon should be pronounced). Under Queen Jaamma Dhewi, about whom many legends exist, this state flourished due in part to its key position en-route for trade to Yunnan in Southern China. While ruler of Haripoonchai, Queen Jaamma Dhewi gave birth to twins, the older succeeding her and the younger becoming ruler at neighbouring Lampang. Due in part to its location, Haripoonchai was to slightly outlive its parent Kingdom.

Artifacts found at those ancient sites date between 5th _ 7th and reflect Bharata (known later as “INDIA”) influences. It is believed that these cities developed from prehistoric times, adopted prehistoric art, which was later, influenced by Bharata styles and adopted and improved surrounding moats and embankments for defence. The cities were circular and were surrounded by two moats and an earthen embankment. The moats were designed to also store water. Most cities were quite large and were located in river basins and close to rivers for water access and transport by water. In the centre of these cities were the Wats. The Dvaravati Period continued in Central Siam until the 11th C and the arrival of the Khorm Empire. Until then these were Buddhist communities. However from architectural and sculptural evidence discovered we see an assimilation process with traditional style influences to produce a distinctive “Siam” style.

Due to the diversity of the city states the kingdom was always politically fragile and was eventually to come under the control of the Khorm. The Morn people did not disappear along with their kingdom and can still be found in Thailand. They have largely been assimilated into Thai culture but distinct Morn communities can still be found such as Goh Gred island in the Chao Praya river. Although Morn people are an ethnic group in Southeast Asia, 4 million live in Morn State __one of 7 states in Union of Burma. This historic state is around the southern Burmese _Thailand border. The small ancient Morn Kingdom was conquered by Great Britain in 1824 after the First Anglo _ Burmese war. The Morn assisted the British in the war in return for promises of their own leadership after the defeat of Burma. Hundreds of thousands of Morns who had settled in and migrated into Siam returned to their homeland when it came under the British rule. However, British promises to restore the Morn Kingdom were never fulfilled. British gave the independence back to Burma and other small kingdoms in the same region while those small kingdoms’ status were reduced to be states under the leadership of Burma. Those states agreed to be together only 10 years. After the period was over, the Burmese goverment broke the agreement and swallowed those ethnic states since then. Now there is no such established Morn nation on the earth.

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