Isan home to ancient Dvaravati ruins

Scattered across Isan & other parts of Thailand, the 1200-old ruins of ancient Dvaravati show how long Buddhism has been here.


Photo above of the famous Hor Nang Usa rock at Phu Phrabat Historical Park in Udon Thani used as a place for meditation during the Dvaravati period.

Photos below of temple boundary stones (sema) from the Dvaravati period also at the park.

Read the whole Bangkok Post article with more photos and more ancient places to visit here.

Click button to listen to Dvaravati Temples in Isan download

Travel Feature
TRAVELSCRAPBOOK

Rediscovering ancient civilisations

Thailand's Northeast is home to many archaeological sites
30/08/2012
Karnjana Karnjanatawe

Blessed by its geography, the northeastern region of Thailand, Isan, is home to an ancient heritage, which traces back 1,000 to 5,000 years...

...The Dvaravati period (9th-12th century) also brought its culture to the Northeast. For example, gigantic, weird shaped rocks in Phu Phrabat Historical Park in Udon Thani are believed to be a cluster of Dvaravati temples dating back 1,200 years.

Historians suggest that the rocks were sacred places due to the layout of sema, a temple boundary stone marker, encircling a large sacred stone, according to park officer Thada Sungthong. The format was unique to the Dvaravati period as the sema stones were placed in eight directions.

Phu Phrabat is one of the places where visitors can still see the layout of an ancient Dvaravati temple, Thada said....

...Standing about 10m above ground level is the iconic rock named Hor Nang Usa in Phu Phrabat Historical Park in Udon Thani. It is believed to be used as a place for meditation during the Dvaravati period. The historical park houses stunning rock structures, naturally carved by the rain and wind for millions of years. The Fine Arts Department found 68 prehistoric archaeological sites, including 45 cave paintings and 23 sacred places within the 3,430 rai plot. The park is now on a tentative list of Unesco World Heritage sites.

The temple boundary stones (sema) created during the 9th -12th century in the Dvaravati period have been left unattended inside Wat Phra Phutthabat Bua Ban, a forest temple, about 18km away from Phu Phrabat Historical Park. The stones were arranged in eight directions to encircle a sacred stone at the centre. However, the central stone no longer exists. In each direction, there are three stones in a row. Each stone is of a different height, and laid in descending order. At the base of the largest stone, there are different designs of carved work such as figures of apsaras, heavenly female spirits often found in Hindu mythology. According to Srisakra Vollibhotama, well-known archaeologist and anthropologist, the place is the only spot in Thailand to see how each sema was originally lined in Dvaravati temples. The Fine Arts Department had a roof made on top of each row of these boundary stones as protection, but the structure is in poor condition. Not far from the group of stones, there are more boundary stones left abandoned and scattered around a cliff...

MORE INFO

Phu Phrabat Historical Park is open daily from 8am to 6pm. The entrance fee for Thais is 20 baht and 100 baht for foreigners. Call 042-251-350_2

(Source: Bangkok Post, Travel Feature, TRAVELSCRAPBOOK, Rediscovering ancient civilisations, Thailand's Northeast is home to many archaeological sites, 30/08/2012, Karnjana Karnjanatawe, link


Thailand's Ancient Civilizations Vocabulary

Dvaravati - a group of small Buddhist states or principalities in what is now Thailand from the 6th to the 13th centuries, heavily influenced by India, little is known of them apart from the beautiful art and coins that they left behind ทวารวดี (See Wikipedia)

temple boundary stones (sema)
- the boundary stones which mark the sacred area for an ordination hall (phra ubosot) in a Thai Buddhist temple; made of stone with inscriptions, they are some of the most important historical evidence of the Dvaravati period ใบเสมา (See Wikipedia)

boundary - a real or imagined line that marks the edge or limit of something เขตแดน,เส้นแบ่งเขต
marker - an object that shows where something is
a temple boundary stone marker

inscription - some important writing on stone สิ่งที่จารึก, ข้อความที่จารึก, รอยจารึก (See Wikipedia)

Phu Phrabat Historical Park - a forest park in Udon Thani Province, named after two Buddha footprints carved into rocks วนอุทยานในภูพระบาทบัวบก (See Wikipedia)

ancient - very old ที่เก่าแก่ ที่โบราณ
culture - the ways of life, beliefs and ideas of a group of people (See Wikipedia)
ancient culture

ruins - old parts of buildings that have fallen apart from long long ago in the past; debris, wreckage, remains ซาก, ซากปรักหักพัง, สิ่งก่อสร้างที่ปรักหักพังแล้วเหลือแต่เค้า
ancient ruins  

civilization - a society that has developed its own culturea and insitutions (See Wikipedia)
ancient civilizations  

re - again
rediscover - discover again, find for the second time  

archaeological - related to the study of the buildings, graves, tools and other objects which belonged to people who lived in the past, in order to learn about their culture and society (the subject is archaeology) เกี่ยวกับโบราณคดี
archaeological sites - a place that archaeologists dig up looking for ruins (old buildings) and artifacts (old objects) from the past 
Thailand's Northeast is home to many archaeological sites

archaeologist - someone who studies the buildings, graves, tools and other objects of people who lived in the past นักโบราณคด
well-known archaeologist


geography - the physical features of the land in an area: hills, valleys, plains, mountains, rivers, lakes, etc (See Wikipedia)

heritage - the art, buildings, traditions, and beliefs that a society considers important to its history and culture มรดก ประเพณีที่ตกทอด
ancient heritage

trace back - to search the past to find when something began 
trace back 1,000 to 5,000 years

Blessed by its geography, the northeastern region of Thailand, Isan, is home to an ancient heritage, which traces back 1,000 to 5,000 years...

century - a period of one hundred years ศตวรรษ
9th-12th century

gigantic
- very very large; extremely large ใหญ่โต ใหญ่มโหฬาร
weird
- very strange แปลกประหลาด
gigantic, weird shaped rocks

cluster -
a small group of things near together
cluster of Dvaravati temples


...The Dvaravati period (9th-12th century) also brought its culture to the Northeast. For example, gigantic, weird shaped rocks in Phu Phrabat Historical Park in Udon Thani are believed to be a cluster of Dvaravati temples dating back 1,200 years.

sacred - considered to be holy or connected with God in a special way  ศักดิ์สิทธิ์
sacred places

layout - arrangement; the way that something is arranged สถานที่
layout of sema

encircle - arranged around something in a circle
encircling a large sacred stone

format - the arrangement, design or organisation of something รูปแบบ
unique - very special, unusual or good ที่มีลักษณะพิเศษ เป็นเอกลักษณ์
format
was unique to the Dvaravati period

Historians suggest that the rocks were sacred places due to the layout of sema, a temple boundary stone marker, encircling a large sacred stone, according to park officer Thada Sungthong. The format was unique to the Dvaravati period as the sema stones were placed in eight directions. Phu Phrabat is one of the places where visitors can still see the layout of an ancient Dvaravati temple, Thada said....

iconic - very famous and well-known (representing a place or something in people's minds)
the iconic rock named Hor Nang Usa

meditation - quiet thought to help you relax or as a religious exercise
a place for meditation

naturally -
by nature, not man-made
carved - cut into or from wood, rock or some other material  แกะสลัก แยกออกจาก

stunning - very surprising; extremely beautiful or attractive; very impressive or beautiful สวยตระการตา น่าตะลึง น่าทึ่ง
stunning rock structures, naturally carved by the rain and wind for millions of years.

prehistoric -
from times before history was written down; long ago in the past; before historical records
prehistoric archaeological sites


cave
- a large hole in the side of a hill or under the ground ถ้ำ
45 cave paintings and 23 sacred places within

plot - a piece of land used for a particular purpose
the 3,430 rai plot

tentative -
not final (could be changed)
on a tentative list of Unesco World Heritage sites.

...Standing about 10m above ground level is the iconic rock named Hor Nang Usa in Phu Phrabat Historical Park in Udon Thani. It is believed to be used as a place for meditation during the Dvaravati period. The historical park houses stunning rock structures, naturally carved by the rain and wind for millions of years. The Fine Arts Department found 68 prehistoric archaeological sites, including 45 cave paintings and 23 sacred places within the 3,430 rai plot. The park is now on a tentative list of Unesco World Heritage sites.

attended -
with a person staying at the place with it (looking after it) 
unattended -
without a person  
left unattended

laid in decending order

at the base of - at the bottom
at the base of the largest stone,

apsara -
a female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology (See Wikipedia)

figure - a small sculpture, model or picture of someone
figures
of apsaras

female
- of a woman สำหรับผู้หญิง
heavenly female spirits

mythology - a collection of ancient traditional stories about gods, heroes and magic, especially those of a particular country or religion เทพนิยาย
Hindu mythology

heavenly female spirits often found in Hindu mythology

spot
the only spot in Thailand

structure

structure is in poor condition

abandoned - left someone and no longer used ที่ถูกละทิ้ง ถูกปล่อยทิ้งไว้
boundary stones left abandoned

scattered - spread over a large area กระจัดกระจาย
cliff - a steep side of an area of high land หน้าผา
scattered
around a cliff

The temple boundary stones (sema) created during the 9th -12th century in the Dvaravati period have been left unattended inside Wat Phra Phutthabat Bua Ban, a forest temple, about 18km away from Phu Phrabat Historical Park. The stones were arranged in eight directions to encircle a sacred stone at the centre. However, the central stone no longer exists. In each direction, there are three stones in a row. Each stone is of a different height, and laid in decending order. At the base of the largest stone, there are different designs of carved work such as figures of apsaras, heavenly female spirits often found in Hindu mythology. According to Srisakra Vollibhotama, well-known archaeologist and anthropologist, the place is the only spot in Thailand to see how each sema was originally lined in Dvaravati temples. The Fine Arts Department had a roof made on top of each row of these boundary stones as protection, but the structure is in poor condition. Not far from the group of stones, there are more boundary stones left abandoned and scattered around a cliff...

About the author

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Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer