Funan was Southeast Asia’s first great economy. It astonished even experts that in Oc Eo and later on in Funan sites objects from Rome and Egypt were found. There must have been an important exchange of merchandises with India. Trade relations even with the Persian Sassanid Empire and the Greek Ptolemaics are documented. Chinese accounts give the proof that the Funanese exported gold, silver, bronze, tin, lakkawood ivory and jadeite.

The scientists are sure about a mayor salt-making industry. Fishes were an important part of the cuisine for the Funaneses population which was mainly concentrated along the Mekong. This river was the natural base for the important rice cultivation. There are evidences that Funan had once been a strong maritime state, actively involving in sea trades. Transportation required boats and canals more than roads. So they needed boatbuilders for the barges that plied the Mekong and ships for open sea use. The moated cities housed artisans of fine goods as jewellery and precious metals. Taxes and tributes were paid in gold, silver and pearls.

Perhaps changes in international trade patterns or the growing importance of rice made the centre of power change from Funan to Cambodia in the 5th to 6th century.

Gold rings and medallion from Go Xoai
from: Art and Archeology of Fu Nan, ed. by J. Khoo, Bangkok 2004

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