This season in Laos, the MMAP team will be excavating a cave site called Tham An Mah that was used as a Buddhist temple and, judging from its location and surface finds, also has the potential for good prehistoric material. A team of international experts will be researching other facets of the site.
Climate Change Research
Two experts from UC Irvine (Kathleen Johnson) and Australia (Michael Griffits) will be conducting speleothem research in the deep caves around Luang Prabang. Speleothems are the technical name for what us nongeologists call stalagmites, stalagtites and other formations. They will be drilling into the speleothem layers and then examining the thickness and mineral content of the individual layers in an attempt to reconstruct thousands of years of climate and climate change data.
The team will be doing flotation on the soil from Tham An Mah so that we can extract and identify seeds and other plant remains from prehistoric contexts.
The team continues to train Lao archaeologists, not only in excavation, but in survey and analysis. The goal is to be able to leave the Laos with a working database system and training so that they can do their own survey work when we are gone and put the new site data into the same tables. This will allow them to maintain a comprehensive and standardized system for site recording.