The illegal trade in ancient bronze drums

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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

Vietnamese archaeologists restore Dong Son drum

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27 July 2007 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – Archaeologists have managed to patch the remains and identify a Dong Son drum (previously mentioned in this site here). The drum belongs to an associated set of artefacts dating some 3,000 years old. The story mentions that the drum has a steel handle and I think this is highly unlikely to be an accurate description of the drum.

Vietnam Net Bridge, 27 Jul 2007

Archeologists restore ancient bronze drum

Archeologists have patched up and identified ancient bronze drum pieces recently discovered in Krong Pach district in Dak Lak province as part of a Heger Classification’s Type 1 drum.

The drum is about 50.5 cm high and 63 cm across with designs engraved all over the body part. The flat-shaped handle is made of steel of 6 cm in width and 8.5 cm in length.

In the area where the drum was unearthed, archeologists also found several iron and bronze tools as well as ancient ceramic pieces. According to experts, the area might have been an ancient burial ground where dead bodies were buried in bronze drums.

Similar tombs have been discovered in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. Besides the bronze drum, many artifacts dating back to 3,000 years ago have also been found in Krong Pack district. Archeologists suggest that there is a link between the province and the ancient Dong Son culture.


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

Vietnamese highlands yield 3000-year-old artefacts

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22 July 2007 (Viet Nam News) – Archaeologists have recovered a large amount of 3000-year-old material from a site in the central highlands, leading them to believe that an important commericial centre once existed there.

Highlands discoveries may be three millennia old

Archaeologists have confirmed that artefacts found in Buon Rau village, Hoa Tien Commune, in Krong Pak (Dac Lac) are as much as 3,000 years old.

Local farmers first unearthed what they thought to be antique ceramics and stone tools in 2001 while planting coffee and pepper. They passed them to Dac Lac museum and archaeologists began excavating a 1.5ha site in Buon Rau in 2003.

Despite damage caused by farming, after 10 days of digging to a depth of 50cm an archaeological team led by Dr Tran Quy Thinh unearthed a number of ancient artefacts that led experts to declare the site one of the most valuable in the country.

Archaeologists have since unearthed thousands of items of pottery, stone tools, and four burial jars. Among the most valuable finds were a number of stone rectangular and trapezium-shaped axes, a grinding stone and jewellery.

Read the full story here.

3,000 year-old artefacts found in Dak Lak

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05 July 2007 (Nhan Dan) – Thousands of prehistoric artefacts found in Dak Lak province hint at a connection with material cultures at other neighbouring provinces. There’s also a mention about the previous story about the Dong Son drum find in the same province.

3,000 year-old artefacts found in Dak Lak

Vietnamese archaeologists have unearthed a significant cache of 3,000 year-old artefacts in Krong Pach district in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.

“Thousands of ceramic pieces, hundreds of stone tools, including various axes and jewellery, and four tombs were found during an excavation conducted at the Rau village archaeological site in La hamlet, Hoa Tien commune,” Tran Quy Thinh from the Vietnam Archaeology Institute said.

Researchers said the objects reflect a close connection between ancient inhabitants of Dak Lak province and those living along the Dong Nai and Po Ko rivers in Kon Tum province and the Bien Ho (To Nung Lake) in Gia Lai province.

Read more about the finds at Dak Lak province.

More books about prehistoric Vietnam:
Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past: Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists by E. A. Bacus, I. Glover and V. C. Pigott (Eds)
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)

Dong Son material culture found in Vietnamese central highlands

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02 July 2007 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – A Dong Son style drum, used as a receptacle for human bones, was unearthed recently in the Dak Lak province of Vietnam. What I found interesting in this story was the fact that the coffee plant owner, in which the drum was found, was actually holding the drum ransom!

Dong Son drum discovered in Dak Lak

A bronze drum used to keep human bones has recently been discovered in Krong Nang district in the Central Highlands of Dak Lak, according to the Dak Lak General Museum.

According to the museum’s director Luong Thanh Son, the drum was found by waste collectors in a coffee plant. The plant’s owner asked the museum to pay VND100million (US$6,000) in return for the drum. The museum has informed higher provincial authorities of the drum as well as the sky-high price the owner is demanding.

Read more about the Dong Son drum find in Dak Lak.

Other books about the Dong Son culture:
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham