The Indo-Chinese Peninsula Before The Arrival of The Thais

Such stone implements as axes and utensils have been dug up in various parts of the Indo-Chinese peninsula, thus indicating that the earliest inhabitants must have been primitive people who lived in caves. Next came the Negritos to be followed by the Mon-Khmers and the Lawas. As time wore on, the Mon-Khmers and the Lawas dispersed themselves in different directions. The Mons who were later known as the Talaings of Pegu set themselves up by the Salween river where they extended themselves to the south of the Irrawadi river, while the Khmers, whose direct descendants are the Cambodians, built up their homeland in the lower part of the Mekong river which now constitutes Kampuchea. Flanked by the Mons on one side and by the Khmers on the older, the Lawas spread themselves lengthwise from the north to the south of the Chao Phraya valley. The Mons, the Khmers and the Lawas adopted the Indian culture and religions. The Indian migration to the Indo-Chinese peninsula must have commenced before the third century B.C. and continued until the first few centuries of the Christian era. This peninsula, the Suvarnabhumi, must have been a familiar name with the Indians; otherwise the Mauryan emperor Asoka would not have sent Sona and Uttara to Suvarnabhumi, where their mission was to establish Buddhism. The Indians also introduced Brahinism into the Indo-Chinese peninsula where they settled down, engaged in trade and intermarried with the natives, in consequence of which their descendants began, in due time, to wield considerable power in the various kingdoms which came into existence, namely Funan, Dvaravati, Chenla, Champa, Srikasetra, Suddhammati, and Srivijaya. It should be noted that Chenla eventually became the so-called Khmer empire. Some of the Khmer kings won fame as great builders. Suriyavarman II (1113-1150), for instance, built Angkor Wat. In the wake of its destruction of Dvaravati, the Khmer empire grew and reached its zenith when the whole of the Chao Phraya valley was brought under its rule by the end of the tenth century.