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Murphy, Stephen A (2015) 'How Many Monks? Quantitative And Demographic Archaeological Approaches To Buddhism In Northeast Thailand And Central Laos, 6th-11th Centuries Ce.' In: Lammerts, D. Christian, (ed.), Buddhist Dynamics in Premodern and Early Modern Southeast Asia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 80-119. (Nalanda-Sriwijaya series ; v 24)

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Abstract

This article explores a number of ways in which to reconstruct the possible extent of monastic Buddhism in the Khorat Plateau during the Dvaravati period. In an attempt to so, it is consequently multidisciplinary in its conception, being primarily archaeological while also drawing on areas of anthropology, art history, demographics and Buddhist studies. In doing so, it attempts to move beyond the sole analysis of archaeological and art historic objects in order to investigate the social, demographic and geographical factors that lie behind the production of these artefacts. It proposes to do so by a number of quantitative means: first, by giving hypothetical population estimates of urban centres/moated sites during the Dvaravati period and consequently the number of monks these settlements could have supported. These estimates are then used to consider how many monks may have been sustained according to these figures. Second, by carrying out a quantitative analysis of sema stone numbers and their distribution throughout the Khorat Plateau this also provides a method to calculate the number of possible consecrated spaces (viz, sīma) in the region and their geographic extent. The analysis shows that institutional, monastic Buddhism primarily spread and settled along the major river systems throughout the region. Third, by plotting the distribution, quantity and quality of Buddhist narrative artwork on sema to pinpoint the locations of possible workshops and centres. This also allows for a number of conclusions to be drawn in terms of the socio-economic support needed to develop and maintain workshops and craftsmen and relates directly to population densities.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Keywords: Buddhism, Southeast Asia, Premodern, Thailand, Laos, Sema Stones
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of the History of Art & Archaeology
ISBN: 9789814519069
Copyright Statement: The article is reproduced here with the kind permission of the publisher, ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute, http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.1355/9789814519076-005
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2020 10:27
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/34417
Related URLs: https://www.cam ... A5BB9D53CEF2B59 (Organisation URL)

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