Stories from last week’s underwater archaeology conference in Vietnam

A couple of news stories arising from the underwater archaeology symposium in Quang Ngai city last week; one is about the symposium, while the other is about an associated exhibition at the Quang Ngai Museum featuring finds salvaged from the waters in the area.

The article about the conference quotes Prof Staniforth as saying that Vietnam needs a younger generation of underwater archaeologists to be trained, but I think the journalist missed the bigger point that he was trying to make. Prof. Staniforth also stressed that governments needed to be more committed in underwater archaeologists, in both the training, as well as in the legislative and enforcement frameworks for protecting underwater heritage. It is interesting to note that a number of the shipwreck finds from Vietnam are in the hands of private collectors now, being sold in markets like Singapore.

Underwater archaeology symposium in Quang Ngai City. Saigon: Vietnam Net 20141017
Underwater archaeology symposium in Quang Ngai City. Saigon: Vietnam Net 20141017

VN needs young underwater archaeologists
Vietnam Net, 17 October 2014

Quang Ngai boasts potential for underwater cultural heritage sites
Saigon Giai Phong, 17 October 2014

“Human resources play a key role in underwater archaeological science; a new science to Viet Nam,” Staniforth said. “A proactive boost in studies and research devoted to underwater heritages in Viet Nam is needed. Viet Nam should create job opportunities for young researchers in underwater archaeology studies”

Seafaring activities have occurred along Viet Nam’s 3,000km coastline for more than 2,000 years, he said.
“Viet Nam, centrally located in Southeast Asia, was part of the ‘Maritime ceramic route’ that saw centuries of trade between China and the west via the East Sea,” Staniforth said. “At this stage, very little is known about how many shipwrecks or other maritime and underwater cultural heritage sites might exist in Vietnamese waters as there has been very little underwater archaeology survey work done, but it has been suggested that thousands of sites could be located.”

This year’s symposium, Viet Nam’s first time as host, brought together 170 researchers and archaeologists from 17 countries and territories.

Full stories here and here.

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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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