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Sunken treasures remain out of reach [Link no longer active]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
15 Apr 2007 (Viet Nam News) – It’s quite interesting to hear about ‘amateur archaeologists’ nowadays, particularly from this part of the world. This man collected some 7,500 stone artefacts over a span of 17 years. I find it quite interesting that the archaeology authorities commend him for his collection efforts rather than the loss of valuable context. Still, the alternative may be worse if the artefacts become ground to make drugs for folk use.
Amateur archaeologist illuminates past
It was almost 17 years ago when Van Dinh Thanh, while panning for gold on the banks of the Po Co River in Sa Thay Commune, reached down and picked up what he thought was a golden nugget. On closer inspection he discovered that the object was a worked piece of stone. Later he was to learn that it was a prehistoric stone hammer. The discovery fired his passion for ancient artefacts and was the start of the young gold prospectorâ€™s new life as an amateur archaeologist.
Thanhâ€™s collection now numbers 7,000 artefacts and is the largest in the province. The artefacts date from the 500 BC to 5500 BC and include stone axes, drills, hoes, jewellery and Bon Rang Trau, an agricultural tool shaped like a buffaloâ€™s teeth. The collection is divided into three categories: the Neolithic era (New Stone Age), Mesolithic era (Middle Stone Age) and Palaeolithic era (Old Stone Age). Experts say his collection is invaluable to understanding the anthropology of the region.
“I highly appreciate what Thanh has done,” says Professor Nguyen Khac Su from the Viet Nam Institute of Archaeology, who was a member of the group that visited Thanhâ€™s house in 1991. “The standard of education among those living in the gold fields of Lung Leng is very low. They assume that these tools are â€˜hammers of godâ€™ and often grind them down to make drugs for their children. Other people throw them away because they are scared of the prehistoric remains.”
– The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham
– Stone adzes of Southeast Asia;: An illustrated typology (Canterbury Museum bulletin) by R. Duff
19 January 2007 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – I’ve got no information on the other stone slabs.
Another ancient stone slab discovered in Ha Giang
A 3 sq. m wide slab of stone believed to be an altar for prehistoric people has been discovered in Xin Man district, northern mountainous Ha Giang province.
The stone slab is propped up on three stone pillars, 200m away from a field discovered two years ago full of ancient stone slabs with strange carvings.
Archaeologists from the Viet Nam Institute of Archaeology are now studying the significance of the carvings and odd patterns on the stone, to try to come up with ways of preserving them from the ravages of time and weather.
15 Sep 2006 (VietNam Net Bridge) – A short news story on two cowry shell finds in the Bat Cave (no, not that one) in Quang Tri province. According to the article, cowry shells have been recognised as currency between 2,500 and 5,000 years ago.
Ancient money discovered in Quang Tri
Archaeologists from the Viet Nam Institute of Archaeology and the Quang Tri Province Museum have unearthed two ancient cowry shells during an excavation at the Bat Cave in Quang Tri Province.
1 Aug 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – A composite of two stories, the first reports finds of Tran Dynsaty artifacts from Yen Bai Province, the second already mentioned on a previous post of the fishing village in the Khanh Hoa Province. Sorry for the delay! I’ve been ill.
Archaeological objects dug up in 2 provinces
A number of Tran Dynasty (1225-1400) relics have been uncovered during an excavation of the archaeological site at the [tag]Ben Lan Pagoda[/tag] in the northwestern province of Yen Bai.
Archaeologists from the Viet Nam Institute of Archaeology (VNIA) and the Yen Bai Museum discovered vestiges of 12 terracotta towers, increasing the number of towers at the site to 14. The first two towers were found during another excavation last year.