Museum curator moots underwater archaeology centre

Statistically speaking, archaeology news from Vietnam represents a significant portion of archaeology news that comes out from Southeast Asia. Lots of that news is focused on finds in the mainland, so this piece is quite special in that it mentions underwater archaeology. There’s a lot of potential for discovering underwater sites along the coasts of Vietnam, particularly since it lies along the route between China and island Southeast Asia.

26 April 2007 (Thanh Nien News) – Statistically speaking, archaeology news from Vietnam represents a significant portion of archaeology news that comes out from Southeast Asia. Lots of that news is focused on finds in the mainland, so this piece is quite special in that it mentions underwater archaeology. There’s a lot of potential for discovering underwater sites along the coasts of Vietnam, particularly since it lies along the route between China and island Southeast Asia.

The big challenge, of course, is setting up the infrastructure for an underwater archaeology unit because it is a huge investment – underwater archaeology is such a specialised discipline, and it’s even rarer to find properly trained underwater archaeologists operating in this region. Hopefully the proposed centre for underwater archaeology becomes more than a pipe dream.

Underwater archeology center proposed in once arterial sea route

A museum curator has suggested that Vietnam establish a center to study aquatic relics as Vietnam’s coast could host thousands of such objects left behind by ships traveling along the Silk Road centuries ago.
Pham Quoc Quan, director of the Vietnam History Museum, said an underwater archeology center is necessary as Vietnam boasts over 3,000 km of coastline at the crossroads of oriental and occidental civilizations.

He cited a company named Seabed Exploration as saying Vietnamese seas may be home to as many as 40 ship wrecks.

He also cited Vietnamese scholar Le Quy Don who wrote in the 18th century that locals in what is now the coastal town of Vung Tau lived off hunting for treasures under the sea.

Five ancient ships discovered in recent years are proof of Vietnam’s strategic sea location centuries ago, Quan added.

Through experiences shared by Thailand, the Philippines, China and the UK, Vietnam could establish the center in Vung Tau, he said.


Related Books:
Shipwrecks and Sunken Treasure in Southeast Asia by T. Wells

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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