Dong Son and the sea

A Dong Son bronze spear and an axe found near the coastline may suggest that the ancient peoples of that culture may have interacted with the sea more than previously thought. I do find the conclusions of the archaeologist in the article stretching a bit too thin when he says that the discovery of the artefacts prove that there was trading activity going on near the sea though.

Artifacts further evidence of East Sea sovereignty: expert
Vietnam Net Bridge, 07 July 2009

The two Dong Son artifacts discovered in Ha Tinh Province late last month reaffirm Vietnam’s sovereignty over the East Sea area, says Trinh Sinh, an official of the Institute of Archeology.

The Dong Son culture was centered in the Red River valley in northern Vietnam and was a prehistoric Bronze Age culture, dated to about 2000 BC-200 AD.

According to Ha Tinh Province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, farmers in the village of Ky Loi in Ky Anh District, discovered on June 22 two artifacts that experts believe date back two millennia.

The artifacts, a bronze spear and an axe, were found on the Vung Ang seabed, about two kilometers off the coast of Ky Loi Village.

“This is the first time we’ve discovered Dong Son artifacts near the seabed,” Sinh said. “This proves that the residents of Dong Son culture had conducted trading activities near the sea area that borders their land.”


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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.

One thought on “Dong Son and the sea”

  1. We have a proverb in German archaeology: one find is no find…I cannot see why a finding of ceramics and a bronze spear mutate the Dong Son to a seafaring culture. For sure, they had boats and they drove to the sea, but to build up a “East Sea souvereignty” is quite absurd. We can talk about that, if more finds have been made.

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