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UCD School of Archaeology

Scoil na Seandálaíochta UCD

Middle Mekong Archaeological Project, Lao PDR

Principal Investigators

Dr. Joyce White (U Penn Museum), Mr. Bounheuang Bouasisengpaseuth (Lao PDR National Museum), Dr. Helen Lewis (UCD Archaeology), Dr. Ben Marwick (U Washington Anthropology)


National Geographic, UCD Seed Funding, U Penn Museum

The MMAP was established to do the first modern archaeological survey of the Middle Mekong River area in northern Laos. Since 2007 UCD has had a key role on the project through Dr Helen Lewis. The project is currently engaged in a series of small excavations of cave sites identified through several years of field survey; the aim of the excavations is to develop a chronology for historic and prehistoric periods, and to learn more about the history and prehistory of this vital connecting zone between China, mainland Southeast Asia and the South China Sea.  There are one or two field seasons a year, probably in January and April, living in local villages in the Luang Prabang area. There is also archive work on materials in Lao PDR National Museum collections in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.

Project Videos

Middle Mekong Archaeological Project from Penn Museum on Vimeo.

Joyce White, co-Director of the Middle Mekong Archaeological Project (MMAP), talks about the origins of the project and gives an overview of the test excavations the team has conducted at a series of cave/rockshelter sites in northern Laos since 2007.

Dr. White is interviewed during the 2010 season at a cave called Tham An Mah near a village called Ban Xieng Mouk just outside of Luang Prabang. The excavation yielded several important Iron Age discoveries that will shed light on MMAP's research on human prehistory in this under-studied region of the world.

Tham Vang Ta Leow, Laos excavation 2008: Penn undergrad Yanik Ruiz-Ramón’s YouTube video from the MMAP 2008 Field Season.