24 July 2007 (Bangkok Post) – Coffin burials are quite rare in Southeast Asia, so this find of a coffin with a carving of a woman on it is quite interesting, especially since there is little to compare it with. The first real “history” of the Nan province only emerges from about the 13th century so this coffin, if it is 1,000 years old, would predate that.
Wooden coffin cover clue to ancient times
Archaeologists are examining an ancient wooden coffin lid bearing a carved woman-like figure, hoping to find some link to a funeral culture thought to be uncommon in Southeast Asia. The coffin cover is 166cm long and about 30cm wide. It is made of teak and thought to be about 1,000 years old.
It is believed to be part of an elegant funeral ceremony of a long-vanished tribe, scholars from Chiang Mai University say.
They say the carving is a stylised human figure, representing a woman.
It is not known which tribe created it and even its age is uncertain because the archaeologists cannot find other ancient funeral items discovered in Thailand to make a comparison with it.
The coffin cover is considered a rare discovery, as its like has never been found before in the region.
The wooden artefact was unearthed recently by a villager collecting bat droppings in a cave in Nan’s Wiang Sa district. It was buried 10 metres below the ground’s surface, which was densely covered with bat guano.
Read more about the mysterious coffin fron Nan province.
17 June 06 (Viet Nam News) – A hidden complex of tombs from the Tran-Le Dynasty in the 13th century will be open to public in a bid to develop regional tourism. The tombs were hidden in caves on a sheer rock face, effectively cutting them from human access. While the development plans will include the building of roads and other tourist amenities to make the cave more accessible, there is also the tantalising prospect of other similar mortuary caves hidden in the region.
13th-century tomb to be open to public
Deep inside the relatively modest Pha Hang Mountain in the province of Thanh Hoa rests a treasure trove of coffins dating back to the 13th century.
The remarkable finds, about 160km from Ha Noi, have remained off limits to the public since their discovery a decade ago.
But now, provincial officials are opening the doors to the Tran-Le dynasties cemetery as part of VND22 billion programme to open the region to tourism.
While Pha Hang is far from grandiose, itâ€™s sheer rock face has for centuries hid the bounty within.
That all changed in 1997 when a local villager ambled into the cave while searching for a runaway goat. What he found amazed archaeologists.
The 10m-high and 30m-deep cave was divided into three sections, like an ancient house, said Nguyen Gia Doi from the Archaeology Institute of Viet Nam. Two big doors let the air and sun into the cave, helping dry out the area.
There are more than 100 wooden coffins in all, ranging in size from large to small and containing the bodies of children and adults. Whittled from tree trunks, they line the walls of the cave, balanced on shelves carved into the rock. It is considered the largest cemetery of its kind in the country.
Doi, who has spent 10 years studying the find, believes the remains likely belong to members of the Thai ethnic minority who have lived in the area for thousands of years.
Read more about the mortuary caves in Thanh Hoa Province.
13 Oct 2006 (Vietnam Net Bridge) – Report of a Tran Dynasty excavation of a burial in the Ninh Binh province.
Excavation of another ancient tomb valuable for archeology
Ninh Binh Museum released a report on the excavation of an ancient tomb at Ao Dinh, Chinh Don Ward, Gia Minh Commune, Gia Vien District.
The excavation of the tomb where two people were buried was carried out from January 26 to February 4, 2005. The coffins have two layers and were placed parallel to each other. Both were made of special wood which is poisonous to insects.
One coffin has a boat shape and the other has a rectangular shape. These coffins were carved with the patterns of lotus flower, leaf and saw-tooth.
Objects buried with the two bodies included a wooden box, half of a pestle, seven coins and an altar.
3 July 2006 (Viet Nam News) – Some 200 coffins, possibly dating to the early 8th century, risk becoming irrepairably damaged unless preservation actions are taken.
Centuries-old coffins rotting at ancient burial site
A cave containing 200 centuries-old wooden coffins in the northern province of Thanh Hoa may be irreparably damaged unless it is preserved soon by archaeologists, says a local official.
The cave is hidden in a dense forest near the top of a high rocky mountain at a spot where the Luong estuary merges into the Ma River in Hoi Xuan Commune, about 140 km away from Thanh Hoa City.
10 May 2006 (Viet Nam Net Bridge) – Excavation of a 200-year-old Vietnamese courtier in Ho Chi Minh City.
Secrets of court lady uncovered
A semicircular carved wooden plaque was placed atop the coffin, bearing Chinese-Vietnamese script which read â€˜Tomb of Court Lady Voâ€™, and was emblazoned with iconographic designs.