History of Myanmar

1500 BCE Jan 1 - 200 BCE

Prehistory of Myanmar

Myanmar (Burma)

The prehistory of Burma (Myanmar) spanned hundreds of millennia to about 200 BCE. Archaeological evidence shows that the Homo erectus had lived in the region now known as Burma as early as 750,000 years ago, and the Homo sapiens about 11,000 BCE, in a Stone Age culture called the Anyathian. Named after the central dry zone sites where most of the early settlement finds are located, the Anyathian period was when plants and animals were first domesticated and polished stone tools appeared in Burma. Though these sites are situated in fertile areas, evidence shows these early people were not yet familiar with agricultural methods.[1]


The Bronze Age arrived c. 1500 BCE when people in the region were turning copper into bronze, growing rice, and domesticating chickens and pigs. The Iron Age arrived around 500 BCE when iron-working settlements emerged in an area south of present-day Mandalay.[2] Evidence also shows rice growing settlements of large villages and small cities that traded with their surroundings and as far as China between 500 BCE and 200 CE.[3] Bronze-decorated coffins and burial sites filled with the earthenware remains of feasting and drinking provide a glimpse of the lifestyle of their affluent society.[2]


Evidence of trade suggests ongoing migrations throughout the prehistory period though the earliest evidence of mass migrations only points to c. 200 BCE when the Pyu people, the earliest inhabitants of Burma of whom records are extant,[4] began to move into the upper Irrawaddy valley from present-day Yunnan.[5] The Pyu went on to found settlements throughout the plains region centred on the confluence of the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers that had been inhabited since the Paleolithic.[6] The Pyu were followed by various groups such as the Mon, the Arakanese and the Mranma (Burmans) in the first millennium CE. By the Pagan period, inscriptions show Thets, Kadus, Sgaws, Kanyans, Palaungs, Was and Shans also inhabited the Irrawaddy valley and its peripheral regions.[7]

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