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My Son Sanctuary
Quang Nam Province, Vietnam (Da Nang)
4th century
UNESCO World Heritage Site


Creative Commons image by Andries3

One of the earliest emergent polities known in Southeast Asia, recorded in Chinese dynastic records, was Champa. An important port in the South Sea, Champa was a crucial stop along the maritime trade route between China and India. More accurately however, Champa was a loose federation of kingdoms that dot the central Vietnamese coast. The name ‘Champa’ came from a 6th century inscription at the My Son Sanctuary.

The sanctuary of My Son represents some of the finest architecture by the Chams. Borrowing heavily from the architectural traditions of India and once thought of as an ‘Indianized’ state, current theories hold that the Cham state emerged locally and later adopted Hindu practices from cultural exchanges with traders to strengthen their positions of rulership.

The complex was originally made up of some 70 towers, but only 25 remain today. In stark contrast to the temples of Angkor, the ruins of My Son seem almost minimalist. They are, however, one of the earliest examples of monumental architecture in Southeast Asia and have existed longer than Angkor as well!

Find our more about Champa in:
The Art of Champa by J. Hubert
Early Cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia
Hindu-Buddhist Art Of Vietnam: Treasures From Champa by E. Guillon
The Indianized States of Southeast Asia by G. Coedes

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One Reply to “5 Southeast Asian archaeology sites to visit (that are not Angkor)”

  1. I am not sure what archeologists think of the restoration done in Trowulan archeological site, but its good to see that they really try to preserve and protect the sites, even with limited resources. It is a pity though as its not part of the tourist candi trail.

    In contrast, from what i saw 3 years ago…MySon as well as the Cham museum get a lot of tourists but seems to be struggling with restoration and maintenance. Really surprising to see. I did notice that there were 3 related museums there (the on-site one, the nearby one that probably never sees visitors, the Champa museum in Danang with its so few exhibits), so is it a case of spreading resources thin?

    Anyway, it is quite understandable for Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia to have to spread its resources among many many sites. But for Vietnam (and also Malaysia), I really wonder why, especially noting their huge tourism budgets and how the few sites they have can possibly bring in more tourists. Its probably not about availability of funds.

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