Association Of Myanmar Archaeologists

Myanmar Archaeology Students Blog

Excarvation At Tagaung


The lack of a western wall at Tagaung has been attributed to a number of factors. The most debated of these is a westward movement of the Ayeyarwaddy in the geologically recent past from the bed of the ‘Old Ayeyarwaddy’ east of the present site to that of the Meza Chaung.41 Working within this premise, one of the present authors has suggested that not only the location but also the layout may have conformed to a tradition that first millennium AD walled cities associated with Pyu-speaking groups had nine quadrants.42 There are today three walled areas at Tagaung: Wall 1 (19 hectares) around a low hillock on the north, Wall 2 (62 hectares) known as Anya Bagan and Wall 3 (204 hectares) which encloses the other two walls. All three, however, are missing the western wall. When the nine quadrants are plotted to form an oval-shaped city plan, site TG31, excavated in 2003-2004, falls in the northeast quadrant of the old city. As the finds from TG31 and Hsin Hynat to the south support our note above of links beyond Myanmar, in this case to Yunnan, we will return to TG31 and Hsin Hynat. First, however, we discuss Bagan and the natural resources of Tagaung that together with its location ensured continued patronage from its founding to the present.




Tagaung and Bagan are closer to the Ayeyarwaddy than Halin, Maingmaw, Waddi or Beikthano.44 While
the west wall of both is currently the Ayeyarwaddy, each may once have been farther from the bank and the threat of flood. At Bagan, Daw Thin Gyi concluded from aerial photographs that the west wall has been gradually lost to the Ayeyarwaddy through erosion and flood.45 A jutting out of the river at the village of Myit Khe (‘lower portion’) north of Bagan also supports its gradual eastward shift. Beyond this, however, comparison weakens, for Bagan’s setting may have obviated the need for fortification on the immediate east while the ecology and location of Tagaung may have required it. The site’s strategic position on the Yunnan frontier is evident in the array of Tagaung artefacts attributed to its use by the 11th century AD Anawrahta as part of his east flank fortification.46 Ores may additionally explain Anawrahta’s interest in Tagaung, with silver continuing in use at Bagan for land and slave purchases.47 Tagaung afforded access to the silver mines of Bawdwin and Yadanatheingyi at Namtu in around Mogok. It is also via Mogok and the Shweli and Taping (Tabein) rising in the uplands that Tagaung linked to Yunnan via Muse and Bhamo.48 Other resources including jade, copper and iron were reachable by the Meza and Uru watercourses to the north and northwest.49






Other watercourses are seen on the east, a critical area in our interpretation above of Tagaung’s ‘missing’
western wall. 50 One is a series of remnant streams on low-lying land east of the walled area, all aligned east towest, linking the present and suggested past courses of the Ayeyarwaddy. Another is the site’s location on a faultrelated linear sector of the Ayeyarwaddy bounded on the west by the Minwun Range (391m). Other elements are the prevalence of earthquakes, most recently in 2000 and 1989, and erosion and deposition along the river and feeder streams. Rainfall is also relatively high at Tagaung, some 1176 mm per annum versus 870 mm at nearby Halin. This in part relates to the higher elevation of Mogok whose timber, elephants and mineral resources were shipped down to jetties at Tagaung, Hsin Hynat just south of Tagaung and Kyan Hynat 30 km further south. Sedimentation along the Ayeyarwaddy may have affected preservation of the west wall, but also has had benefits, including gold washing.51 This practice is also seen at the sandbars around Ton Ngeh, 10 km north of Tagaung. 52

Tagaung additionally profited from the seasonal lakes (ingyi) and swamp lands located along the remnant streams east of the site. Each is used for particular crops, with fields varying from edible oils to rice and coriander. Winter rice or mayin is grown on the edges of shallow pools on the shelf between the Ayeyarwaddy and the Indaing forest on Thaung Hwet Taung (‘the mountain of the 10,000 hidden’) to the southeast.53 Fowl such as pheasants, partridge, toucans, pelicans and Saurus cranes live around in-gyi and the tall swamp grass areas, while numerous fish are found in the in-gyi and Telawa Chaung bordering the walled site on the north. Tigers, elephants, banteng (Saing) and gaur were once common along the Shweli, with various types of deer around Tagaung. 54 One reason the seasonal pools and lakes are vital is that the water flowing down from Thaung Hwet Taung is high in sulphur and not potable. Other natural resources are seen on the mountain to the northeast, the Tagaung Taung or In-net (‘black-in’). These include some mined at present, such as manganese, source of the black waters, and others exploited in the past, notably Kyauk Sein a green chalcedony used for polished stone beads.



By : Elizabeth Moore & U Win Maung (Tampawaddy)


5 responses to “Excarvation At Tagaung

  1. Mi Mi Tun February 3, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Would be a good idea to include the pictures of the renovated pagodas in Tagaung and names of guest houses(if any).

  2. Mi Mi Tun February 3, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    please inform the readers of ways to get to Tagaung and the places worth visiting there.

  3. zay myo lin March 16, 2009 at 6:09 am

    Congratulation to your Blog!
    I believe you did a great great job and hope that you will carry on good work.
    Could you please kindly let me know the Dimensions of each pieces.
    I would like to request that can I use your photos on my private research and Archaeological site.
    And if you don’t have in mind, please kindly provides for the below questions.

    Did you involved in execution on this Archaeological site ?
    You you update the current of location of all these items?
    Do you have any pictures of Pyu Coin ?

    Best Regards

  4. Kyaw Lat November 30, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    As an architecture historian, we are very much interested about the construction technology applied at Tagaung structures of early period. These are not mentioned and there are no drawings of buildings attached, I wish that would be done soon
    Prof. Dr. Kyaw Lat

  5. Harry Hpone Thant August 8, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Need updated news. Some of the news here are too old

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