The illegal trade in ancient bronze drums

06 August 2008 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – This piece of alarming news comes from the Dak Lak province, where Dong Son drums have been recently discovered, and how as many of 50 of them have been illegally excavated and smuggled out.

Vietnam Net Bridge, 06 Aug 2007

Many ancient bronze drums being illegally excavated

In the past four months, 50 bronze drums have been unearthed and transported illegally out Krong Nang district in Dak Lak province, said doctor Tran Quy Thinh from the Vietnam Archeological Institute.

Of these, the only one that is yet to be sold is at present being kept by Nguyen Thi Dieu from Xuan Vinh commune. Ms. Dieu has asked Dak Lak Museum for VND100million (US$6,000) for the ancient drum.

The drum, which was discovered in Ms. Dieu’s garden, is a Dong Son Drum Type 1, which dates back 2,200 years. The surface’s diameter is 65 cm, and the diameter of the bottom is 67 cm.

This is considered the most intact of all the ancient bronze drums that have been discovered in the Central Highlands of Dak Lak so far. Archeologists have recently restored another smaller Type 1 bronze drum found in the district of Krong Pack, where other 3,000-year-old artifacts have also been discovered.


More information about Dong Son drums can be found in:
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham
Dong Son Drums in Viet Nam
– Bronze Dong Son Drums by Ha Thuc Can

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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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