Tens of thousand years ago, this land was covered with lush tropical rain forests. The fertile land, temperate climatic conditions, abundent natural resources attracted early settlers and migrants throughtout the subsequent periods, even up to the present. Rich cultures amalgamated into distinct life styles. Emerging out of a thousand years of consciously striving for unity were the T'ai people. City states soon unified into an independent kingdom. Emergent also was a distinct culture known as Thai.
Stone tools and implements of prehistoric man dating to the Paleolithic Period have been found throughout this country. Over 10,000 years ago, man lived near the waterways in the north and central Thailand. Archaeological evidence of Neolithic settlements has been discovered in an area covering no less than 40 provinces. They include tools and decorative objects made of flint, bone and shells. Primitive paintings dating to this period exist in a number of caves. Metal works, both bronze and iron, appeared almost simultaneously some 2,700 years ago.
A part of prehistory in Thailand has become a subject for intensive study shedding new light on the evoluation of man in southeast Asia. "Ban Chiang" used to be the name of a small village in Udonthani Province. Since the discovery that this modern settlement had been founded on top of an area rich in prehistoric archaeological evidence, the name has become well known worldwide and synonymous with an important prehistoric culture.
Ancient Ban Chiang culture existed in scattered areas throughout the Northeastern region of Thailand. The people lived near watersources in dense forests. They gradually cleared the forest for settlements, They hunted with axes, spears, arrows, sling shots and fishing hooks. They cultivated rice in irrigated paddies and learnt to use buffaloes in farming. They wove cloth out of natural fibres and might have printed patterns on the fabric by using rollers. They made and wore decorative ornaments such as glass beads, earthenware amulets and bronze bangles. They made stylistic pottery which had applied or and painted decorations both for household use and for ritualistic burial. They became proficient metal workers quite early in prehiston, and discovered the use of iron almost contemporaneous with bronze.
The Ban Chiang people believed in the afterlife. They buried the dead accompanied with personal belongings, perhaps insignia of rank, containers of food and other burial goods. Theirs was a structured society which existed for thousands of years until unknown causes disrupted their stable existence. There is no historical evidence of a direct link with the inhabitants of modern Ban Chiang. who are said to have migrated into the area from Laos some 200 years ago. Nevertheless, certain aspects of the contemporary lifestyle indicate some heritage from the past. However vague this link may be, modern Ban Chiang has benefited from the fame of the ancient people.