Where Bangkok recently lost a cultural treasure, it has discovered dozens of ancient antiquities – right under its feet.
Seventy-seven fossils discovered embedded in the walkways around Siam Square, including near the site of the former Scala Theater, were confirmed yesterday to be cephalopods up to hundreds of millions of years old.
The specimens, called ammonites, were believed to have been added to the terrazzo flooring which was manufactured abroad before being imported.
Attention to the fossils was first called Sunday when Supatcha Damrongmanee posted on social media that she had found several at the Siam Square One shopping mall. Supatcha also posted dozens of pictures of what look to be coiled, snail-like forms embedded into the terrazzo, which is made by cementing small stones, marble or granite into a mosaic.
“I was taking a walk in Siam Square on Sunday and found the first fossil, and I was so excited,” Supatcha told Coconuts Bangkok. “Then I walked further and saw more of them.”
Supatcha said she graduated from the Department of Geology of Chulalongkorn University, so she can recognize a fossil.
“I know a thing or two about rock layers and fossils, so I could say right away that the fossils were real,” she added.
Department geologist Adulwit Kaweera and his team went to the site Wednesday and confirmed the authenticity of the ammonite fossils. They range in size from 2 centimeters to 12 centimeters. They are believed to have been imported from numerous sources abroad – but mostly Madagascar.
The fossils were embedded in the walkways of Siam Square Soi 7 and nearby areas, covering where the cinema gem was completely demolished to make way for a new shopping mall. Much of the flooring was recently installed, details of which were in a 2019 construction contract with Chulalongkorn University, which owns the land.
The school’s property management office said it could not identify the contractors since “many of them” were hired for the work.
Ammonite fossils, imprints of extinct molluscs, usually take spiral forms.
It’s not uncommon to find fossils in construction materials. Suwit Kosuwan, a senior expert on mineral resource management, told Thai PBS that the ammonites were not from Thailand due to their age.
Suwit believes that the contractors bought the fossils online, where specimens ranging from 66-million- to 100-million-years-old are sold, to add to the terrazzo.