Vietnam bemoans loss of underwater heritage

Underwater archaeology is an expensive endeavour, and sometimes there’s not enough in the budget for the state to sponsor the recovery of artefacts from under the sea. And without proper safeguards, this usually means that shipwreck finds usually end up in the black market. The story carries a reference to a Singaporean company who salvaged a 15th century Thai ship with the blessing of the Vietnamese government, but it’s the first time I’ve heard of it.

Sunken treasures remain out of reach [Link no longer active]
Viet Nam News, 25 July 2009

Archaeologists lack funds and staff to excavate valuable artefacts found in sunken ships in Viet Nam’s rivers and seas.

Twenty years ago, the Government planned to set up a centre for underwater excavation, but it was never implemented, Tong Trung Tin, director of Viet Nam Institute of Archaeology said.

Tin said most excavations were launched by foreign experts at the request of the Vietnamese authorities.

In 1998 a Singapore company was invited to take part in the salvage of a sunken ship at Cu Lao Cham (Cham Island) off the coast of Hoi An in the central province of Quang Nam.

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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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