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Long before the rise of Bagan, Thaton was an important center for a Mon kingdom that stretched from the Ayeyarwady River delta to similar river deltas in Thailand,

and possibly as far east as Cambodia. Early on, Thaton may have been known as Suvannabhumi, the "Golden Land" legend says Asoka, the great Indian Buddhist emperor, sent a mission here in the 3rd century BC. Later it was called Dvaravati when it reached its dynastic peak between the 6th and 10th centuries AD. Shin Aran, a Myanmar monk from Thaton, carried Theravada Buddhism north to the Burmese Kingdom of Bagan Myanmar, and in 1057 Thaton was conquered by Myanmar King Anawrahta of Bagan.

Today Thaton sits on the main road and Myanmar rail line that stretches from Bago to Mottama. Little of Myanmar ancient Thaton is visible, as the modern town has been built over the old sites in Myanmar. The town's core is a leafy place, lining each side of the highway with colonial mansions and thatched-roof homes. A few older Myanmar stupas dot the hillsides surrounding the town and a picturesque canal network irrigates rice paddies and fruit orchards in Myanmar.

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