Vietnam bemoans loss of underwater heritage

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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Sunken treasures remain out of reach [Link no longer active]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
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Vietnamese archaeologists launch six-month dig in Khanh Hoa province

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Archaeologists hope to recover artefacts and reconstruct up to 3,000 years of history at the Vinh Yen archaeological site in the Khanh Hoa Province of Vietnam. The central province would certainly be home to many artefacts from Champa.

Champa Museum, Danang, Vietnam
photo credit: yeowatzup

Archaeologist to search for 3,000-year-old relics
Thanh Nien News, 12 Feb 2009
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Vietnam conducted 400 excavations in the last year

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A meeting of archaeologists in Vietnam has revealed the vibrant state of archaeological research in the country, including conducting over 400 excavations in the last year, and reaching milestone years fro the Vietnam History Museum and the Vietnam Archaeology Institute.

Yearly archaeological results announced
Vietnam Net Bridge, 02 October 2008
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Vietnam’s Thang Long Citadel one step closer to World Heritage status

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The Vietnamese government has completed its documentation of the ancient capital of Thang Long (Ha Noi), required for submission to UNESCO for World Heritage consideration.

Thang Long Citadel, Nhan Dan, 11 August 2008

Royal citadel’s file completed for UNESCO recognition [Link no longer active]
Nhan Dan, 11 August 2008

Thang Long citadel closes in on UNESCO recognition [Link no longer active]
Viet Nam News, 11 August 2008
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Nam Giao Altar – the largest of its kind

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Excavated in 2004-2005, the Nam Giao altar at the foot of the Don Son mountain in Vietnam may well be the largest undamaged platform of its kind. The platform was built in 1402, during the reign of the Ho Dynasty.

New Nam Giao altar discoveries in Thanh Hoa
Vietnam Net Bridge, 27 November 2007

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The mystery of the Vietnamese mummies

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24 November 2007 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – The Vietnam Archaeology Institute take on the conservation of two 300-year-old preserved bodies of monks. The two mummies are regarded as sacred objects and how they came to be mummified (embalmed, really) is a mystery.

Vietnam Net Bridge, 24 Nov 2007

The mummies return
Duc Hanh heads to Dau pagoda where where two mysterious mummies have lived in silence for 300 years Past a lake and a number of paddy fields, the Dau pagoda sits in isolation near the outskirts of Gia Phuc village in Ha Tay province.

Although originally built in the 11th century under the Ly Dynasty, the pagoda bears the hallmarks of Le-Nguyen dynasty in the 17th century as a number of renovations occurred at that time. Dau pagoda is officially named Thanh Dao Tu or Phap Vu Tu and is dedicated to the Goddess of Rain.

But I’m here to meet two monks, who are shrouded in mystery. At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking these monks were just statues. But in actual fact these are a pair of monks, Vu Khac Minh and monk Vu Khac Truong, who lived in the pagoda more than 300 years ago, were embalmed and preserved after their death.

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A look at excavations in Hanoi

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16 October 2007 (New York Times) – The New York Times carries a well-written feature on the current archaeological excavations going on in Hanoi, seeking to understand the ancient capital of Thang Long, which was founded by the Ly dynasty a millennia earlier. The excavation is said to be the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia.

A Rich and Royal Ruin in the Heart of Hanoi
by Jennifer Pinkowski

Nine hundred years before Ho Chi Minh declared Hanoi the capital of a newly independent Vietnam in 1945, the first king of the Ly Dynasty issued a similar decree.

In 1010 King Ly Thai To picked Thang Long (“Ascending Dragon”), situated within present-day Hanoi, as the capital for a country that had defeated the Tang Dynasty less than a century before, ending a millennium of Chinese rule.

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Cham tower to be studied

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11 September 2007 (Thanh Nien News) – Not to be confused with the citadel found in the previous post, this Cham tower in the Thua Thien-Hue province is slated for archaeological investigation from next month until the end of the year.

Studies to be done on millennium-old Vietnam tower

Excavation will begin on a 1,000-year-old Cham tower complex in central Vietnam to study its architecture and explore if more relics lie undiscovered inside.

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Metal casting tools found in Southern Vietnam

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28 August 2007 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – An excavation at an archaeological site in Southern Vietnam has yielded some 120,000 artefacts, including eight burials, and more significantly, the site reveals the first time metal casting tools have been found so far south.

Prehistoric bronze, ceramic artefacts found in Khanh Hoa

Recent excavations at the Vinh Yen relic site in Van Thanh commune, Khanh Hoa province, have revealed numerous artefacts that prove the site was a ceramic workshop dating back an estimated 3,000 years.

At the excavation site, archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Khanh Hoa Museum found more than 120,000 pieces of ceramic objects including jars, pots and bowls, and about 402 tools used in ceramics and bronze casting.

They also unearthed eight graves that contained bronze, stone and ceramic objects.

This is the first time metal casting tools have been found in the southern central region.


Books about the metal age in Southeast Asia:
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)
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham