The early period witnessed the first modifications of the landscape by the early farmers settled in the marshy environment of the alluvial plain. By around 1000 BCE, Cremaschi observed forest clearing intensification along the mountain slopes and the plain due to, on the one hand, the increase in the mining and smelting of copper ores and, on the other, to the expansion of farming communities.
Further deforestation, in the middle Iron age (ca. 200 BCE-300 CE), was likely linked to social and economic changes sparked by the rise of centres of social aggregation, such as the moated sites (e.g. Tha Kae, Lopburi, Thanon Yai, Promtin Tai), and by the use of iron implements in paddy cultivation.
In the late Iron age, or proto-Dvaravati Period (4th-6th centuries CE) the emergence of the Mon people (and language) in central Thailand and in southern Myanmar, is manifested by the wide distribution of moated sites of varying width and complexity. The variable aggregation of these villages around one prominent among them would have laid the basis of the unstable city-states of the Dvaravati period (Dvaravati is a Sanskrit word meaning “of the many gates”).
According to geomorphological and to archaeological evidences, in the centuries preceding the blossoming of the Mon-Dvaravati art style (7th-11th century CE), TK expanded and was enclosed by a larger, oval-shaped, system of defence, formed by a moat and a rampart reinforced with a palisade.
Silver “coins” or medals with the inscription (in Sanskrit written in Pallava Grantha characters) Sridvaravati Svarapunya (“meritorious act of the Dvaravati Lord”) and short devotional inscriptions in Pali found in Central Thailand mark the transition from protohistory to history around the 6th/7th century CE.
At TK, besides a silver “coin” and a copper ritual vessel of Indian style found by chance, the remains of large architectural structures witness the Dvaravati period occupation. Small terracotta votive lamps found along with the architectural remains (largely destroyed by quarrying activities) reinforce their ritual/religious function (Fig. 13).
Worth noticing is the building material consisting of sun dried “finger-marked bricks” widespread from Central Thailand to Myanmar (Fig. 14).
The life of the site did not end with the weakening of the Dvaravati city-states and the consequent Khmer occupation of Central Thailand (11th-13th century), as evidenced by the discovery of fragments of Khmer ceremonial vases in glazed ceramic (Fig. 15).