17 June 06 (Viet Nam News) – A hidden complex of tombs from the Tran-Le Dynasty in the 13th century will be open to public in a bid to develop regional tourism. The tombs were hidden in caves on a sheer rock face, effectively cutting them from human access. While the development plans will include the building of roads and other tourist amenities to make the cave more accessible, there is also the tantalising prospect of other similar mortuary caves hidden in the region.
Deep inside the relatively modest Pha Hang Mountain in the province of Thanh Hoa rests a treasure trove of coffins dating back to the 13th century.
The remarkable finds, about 160km from Ha Noi, have remained off limits to the public since their discovery a decade ago.
But now, provincial officials are opening the doors to the Tran-Le dynasties cemetery as part of VND22 billion programme to open the region to tourism.
While Pha Hang is far from grandiose, itâ€™s sheer rock face has for centuries hid the bounty within.
That all changed in 1997 when a local villager ambled into the cave while searching for a runaway goat. What he found amazed archaeologists.
The 10m-high and 30m-deep cave was divided into three sections, like an ancient house, said Nguyen Gia Doi from the Archaeology Institute of Viet Nam. Two big doors let the air and sun into the cave, helping dry out the area.
There are more than 100 wooden coffins in all, ranging in size from large to small and containing the bodies of children and adults. Whittled from tree trunks, they line the walls of the cave, balanced on shelves carved into the rock. It is considered the largest cemetery of its kind in the country.
Doi, who has spent 10 years studying the find, believes the remains likely belong to members of the Thai ethnic minority who have lived in the area for thousands of years.
Read more about the mortuary caves in Thanh Hoa Province.