Debating the Sukhothai Stone

Sukhothai Stone: Historians affirm artefact's value - The Nation, September 6, 2003
This is a long-standing controversy lightly touched upon in the local press: whether the famous King Ramkhamhaeng tablet is genuine:

Cabinet secretary-general Bowornsak Uwanno said historians should not try to discredit the inscription stone as it was a symbol of Thai nationhood. "Some academic topics should not be debated just for the argument sake. The inscription stone is almost a revered object for Thais," he said.


[2015 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from the early days of the Thai internet, this article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

SUKHOTHAI STONE: Historians affirm artefact's value

Published on Sep 6, 2003

The first stele - or inscribed stone tablet - by King Ramkhamhaeng is the real thing, historians said yesterday, rejecting critics' efforts to sow doubt on the authenticity of the time-honoured, scientifically tested artefact.

Historians weighed in on the rekindled debate after the government announced Tuesday that the 14th century Sukhothai-period stone inscription had been recommended for a UN World Heritage listing.

Unesco is expected to register the 720-year-old stele on its World Heritage list by next July. The artefact will be included under the lists' cultural category.

In questioning Unesco's planned recognition of the stele, some academics have raised doubts as to whether the inscription was made in the Sukhothai era.

They said it might be a recent artefact dating only to the mid-19th century reign of King Rama IV, in the Rattakosin era.

In a rebuttal, historian Prasert na Nakhon said the stone was found to have the same physical condition as other writing tablets originating from the same period.

"Linguists have repeatedly confirmed that the archaic Thai inscribed on the stone was the language of the Sukhothai period," he said.

Jiraporn Aranyanak, a curator of the Fine Arts Department, said scientific tests on the stone had provided conclusive proof of the artefact's authenticity.

Historian MR Rujaya Abhakara said the stone met seven criteria as a World Heritage memorial.

The criteria included authenticity, uniqueness, enduring cultural value, and association with the Sukhothai historic town.

Cabinet secretary-general Bowornsak Uwanno said historians should not try to discredit the inscription stone as it was a symbol of Thai nationhood.

"Some academic topics should not be debated just for the argument sake. The inscription stone is almost a revered object for Thais," he said.
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