myanmar history 101: myanmar prehistory


as I am only an amateur hobbyist of history and archeology, I can only reproduce what I have copied and remixed from sources on the web

however, as I am not a historian nor an academician, I have not noted down and cross indexed the references, but I can assure you that the sites which I got these data are not biased ones, either way, and just being informative

I hope it will all be good reading for you and enrich you with the historical aspect of Myanmar which you would not have known earlier and not have the time nor the interest to pursue; which I find interesting and good to read, like reading a story book, only this being the truth

as with other brief historical data, I will go along the timelines so that you will find it easier

Paleolithic rockcut at Badalin 20000 B.P.

11000 B.C._ Upper Palaeolithic men live in Badahlin caves which situated in Ywagan township in southern Shan States.

The first human settlements in Myanmar appeared some 11,000 years ago in the middle Irrawaddy River valley.

The Anyathian, Burma’s Stone Age, existed at a time thought to parallel the lower and middle Paleolithic in Europe.

The Neolithic or New Stone Age, when plants and animals were first domesticated and polished stone tools appeared, is evidenced in Burma by three caves located near Taunggyi at the edge of the Shan plateau that are dated to 10000 to 6000 BC.  The most complex of these, the Padhalin cave, contains wall paintings of animals

Around 10,000 B.C. – Distinguished ethnic groups grow in southeast Asia out of differences developed during the past 30 millennia.

7,000 – 2,000 B.C. Neolithic men live in central Myanmar Kachin State, Shan States, Mon State, Taninthayi Division, and along the bank of the Chindwin and Ayeyarwaddy rivers

5000 – 2000 BC approximate dating of the Myanmar Bronze Age

5000 B.C._Taungthaman was occupied from the late Neolithic through the early iron age, around the middle of the first millennium BC. By the second half of the first millennium BC a new developmental phase began in the dry zone of Burma. Referred to as the early Bronze – Iron Age, these cultures shared practices and methods of production with various neighboring areas.  Burial methods resemble those of Thailand and Cambodia.  Iron working technology most likely came from India or other parts of Southeast Asia, and ceramic forms and decoration correspond to those of the bronze – iron Age levels at Ban Chiang in northern Thailand and at Samrong Sen in Cambodia.  Numerous beads have been recovered that stylistically resemble those imported from Andrha Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in India. Taungthaman located near the 19th century city of Mandalay, on an alluvial terrace of the Irrawaddy River within the walls of the 18th century capital, Amarapura, was occupied from the late Neolithic through the early iron age, around the middle of the first millennium BC.

The earliest people who lived in Arakan were Negritos who are mentioned in the chronicles as Bilus (cannibals). They appear to have been the direct neolithic descendents of the Arakanese soil. Later, waves of peoples of different races came into this land from the north. Late comers were the Mros and Saks, followed by the Chins, Khamis, Daingnets and the Chaungthas.

Mons, first arrivals to Myanmar, are of Mon-Khmer tribe and came from pleateaus of West China. They moved south along Ayeyarwaddy, Sittaung, Thanlwin, Mekong, Maenam rivers and established around their river mouths.

To the south of the Pyu were the Mon, a people speaking an Austro-Asiatic language, who established a port capital at Thaton.

Mon-Khmer migration came from Laos and Cambodia. The tribes include Wa, Tai, Palaung, Yao, Padaung, En, and Mon

The Mons, a people of Malayo-Indonesian stock, are related to the early inhabitants of Thailand and Cambodia who also spoke Mon-Khmer languages. The Mons who are considered to be the indigenous inhabitants of lower Burma, established their most significant capital at Thaton, strategically located for trade near the Gulf of Martaban and the Andaman Sea

Tibeto-Burmans, arrive 2nd into Burma. They came from eastern Tibet along Bramaputra river to Assam and Burma. They are of 3 groups: Pyu, Kanyan and Thet

Tibeto-Burmese migration came from the North. They include Kadu, Lashi, Atsi, Rakhine, Chins, Kachin, Sing-po, Lisu, Lahu, Kaw (Akha), Ako

Pyu people came into Myanmar by the northwest passage in the wake of Thaw Gadu, Thet and Naga and presumably it might be as early as the latter half of the 1st millennium BC

Pyu people lived in central Myanmar 5th century B.C. until 9th century A.D._Than Tun

A group of people known as the Pyu, who spoke a Tibeto-Burman language, began establishing city-kingdoms in northern Myanmar between the 1st century BC and AD 800.

While the Mons were establishing themselves in Lower (southern) Burma, the ancestors of today’s Burmese settled Upper Burma (500-200 B.C.?). The Tibeto-Burmans had acquired a measure of civilization from their cousins, the Chinese, but now their independence and lifestyle was threatened by the growing Chinese state. Preferring physical hardship to bondage, they moved away; one tribe, the Tibetans, went directly west into Tibet, while the rest marched over the mountains of Yunnan and northern Burma to reach the Irrawaddy valley. From here the tribes spread out into surrounding areas, and in 167 A.D. they formed a confederation named Pyu

Another group of Tibeto-Burman speakers, the Burmans, also had become established in the northern dry zone. They were centred on the small settlement of Pagan on the Irrawaddy River. By the mid-9th century, Pagan had emerged as the capital of a powerful kingdom that would unify Myanmar

All the Arakan Chronicles mention the coming to Arakan of Indo-Aryan peoples from the Ganges valley and the founding of the cities of Dhanyawaddy and Vesali by their kings. The Indian chiefs who came over probably ruled over the the native population, gradually impressing on them their culture and religion.

Arakanese chronicles date the history of Arakan back to 5000 BC when 2 migratory waves from the eastern part of India coming with a group settled at Kira-brin, 16 miles north of Mrauk-U, and the other settled at Dwarawaddy (Thandway). Later on the group at Thandway dispersed and joined with Kira-brin group to establish Vesali. Local dynasty ruled Vesali up to 3325 BC.

In 3327 BC, savages (Rakkhaik) overtook Vesali and rendered it without a king. A group led by Marayu an Indian prince, came down the Kaladan river and subdued the savages. He then established the first city of Dhanyawaddy on the east bank of the Kaladan and began to rule Rakhine from 3325 BC. The dynasty set up by Marayu kept the throne till 1059 BC. During this period there were 3 instances of disposition with 7 rulers outside the dynasty ruling for 23 years.

Marayu Dynasty (B.C. 3325 – 1507) 57 kings ruled for 1818 years

In Arakanese chronicles, Dhanyawaddy existed 3325 BC – 788 AD. But Shitethaung temple Anandacandra inscription dated the founding of Vesali to 350 / 370 AD. So Dhanyawaddy existed until 350 or 370 AD. Marayu set up the first city of Dhanyawaddy 3325 – 1059 BC. 2nd Dhanyawaddy 1483-580 B.C. KanYarzarGyi / Kammaraja. 3rd Dhanyawaddy 580 B.C.- 326 / 788 A.D. Suriya kings 25 k. 906 yrs.

The first city of Dhanyawaddy on the east bank of the Kaladan  3325 BC. The dynasty set up by Marayu kept the throne till 1059 BC. During this period there were 3 instances of disposition with 7 rulers outside the dynasty ruling for 23 years.

Marayu, son of a prince from Kapilavastu, conquered Arakan and founded Dhanyawaddy.

Sakkya migration into Rakhine. 1st gr: Vasudeva_ruled Dwarawady [Thantwe]. 2nd gr: Ahzona_married daughter of local chief. [son] Marayu conquered old Vesali and founded Dhanyawaddy 3000 B.C.   55 kings

The Arakanese chronicles claim that their kingdom was founded in 2666 B.C., and they contain lists of kings going back to that date. Inscriptions have been found that mention a very old kingdom in the area (as old as 350 A.D., anyway), but they are written in Sanskrit, suggesting that Arakan’s founders were Indian, not Tibeto-Burman.

The Arakanese are Buddhists of Myanmar stock and possess a dialect and customs of their own. Separated from the parent group in central Myanmar by the mountains of the Arakan Yoma, they trace their history to 2666 BC, have had a lineal succession of as many as 227 princes, and claim that their empire once extended across Myanmar into China and Bengal.


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