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Wyatt, a historian of Thailand, argued that their ancestors which at the present inhabit Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, India, and China came from the Điện Biên Phủ area between the 5th and the 8th century.According to French historian George Cœdès, "The Thai first enter history of Farther India in the eleventh century with the mention of Syam slaves or prisoners of war in Champa epigraphy, and "in the twelfth century, the bas-reliefs of Angkor Wat" where "a group of warriors" are described as Syam.During the 13th century, Tai people had already settled in the core land of Dvaravati and Lavo Kingdom to Nakhon Si Thammarat in the south.There are, however, no records detailing the arrival of the Tais.Tai peoples migrated from southwestern China to mainland Southeast Asia from the 11th century; the oldest known mention of their presence in the region by the exonym Siamese dates to the 12th century.Various Indianised kingdoms such as the Mon kingdoms, Khmer Empire and Malay states ruled the region, competing with Thai states such as the Kingdoms of Ngoenyang, Sukhothai, Lan Na and Ayutthaya, which rivaled each other.
The names Shan and A-hom seem to be variants of the same word.The Chinese called this region Xian, which the Portuguese converted into Siam." The signature of King Mongkut (r.1851–1868) reads SPPM (Somdet Phra Poramenthra Maha) Mongkut Rex Siamensium (Mongkut King of the Siamese), giving the name Siam official status until 24 June 1939 when it was changed to "Thailand".He is believed have invented Thai script and Thai ceramics were an important export in his era.Sukhothai embraced Theravada Buddhism in the reign of Maha Thammaracha I (1347–1368).
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After the decline of the Khmer Empire and Kingdom of Pagan in the early-13th century, various states thrived in their place.