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Scientists unearth bronze casting centre (August 14, 2005)

Dirty work: Workers dig at the excavation site. — VNS Photo Hien Hoa
Ages old: A round piece of baked clay, 30cm across, surrounded by pieces of bronze (left), are all that remains of a bronze processing workshop. The remains of a clay and brick pillar (right) were also discovered at the site.
Excavations in Vinh Phuc Province have revealed the 3,500-year-old bronze casting centre of Dong Son, allowing scientists to piece together the history and culture of this fascinating civilisation. Hien Hoa reports.

The recent excavations of the Thanh Den site in Cu An Hamlet, Tu Lap Commune, Me Linh District of Vinh Phuc Province, conducted by the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, have revealed a large volume of findings belonging to the early and late stages of development of the Dong Dau Culture. The findings have also helped to affirm the existence of the greatest centre of non-ferrous alloy production in Viet Nam. Within a 100sq.m area, 108 bronze artefacts were unearthed. Thousands of pointed axes, spears, arrows, hooks, pieces of copper wire and many pieces of earthenware were also discovered. Other findings made of stone and ceramics were much scarcer in comparison with bronze items. The findings show that about 3,500 years ago, bronze instruments played an important role and appeared to replace similar items made of stone.

Have traces of the ancient village that existed about 3,500 or 3,000 years ago been discovered?

The vestiges of the inhabitants of the stage of the Dong Son Culture have been discovered through the stratum structure. In addition to bronze items, there are some traces of rattan ware, and woven items. Archaeologist Bui Van Liem, PhD, of the Viet Nam Institute of Archaeology, has also discovered two ancient graves in which bones were lying on a rectangular foundation of well-trodden earth, similar to a coffin in the primeval period. The remains were placed lying supine with hands and legs stretched out. The foundation of the graves were strewn with yellow earth and stone and ceramic items were interred within.

All these findings may help us to figure out the face of an ancient village of that age. Inhabitants resided for some time in the area and lived mainly on cultivating rice. In addition to farming, they may have been skilful in many other trades. In the opinion of archaeologists, the model of Thanh Den-type village was fairly common in the history of Viet Nam.

In fact, Thanh Den was one of the rare vestiges found intact in the area. Therefore, it is a site of paramount importance in the restoration of the face of the Dong Dau Culture, with its continuous process from Phung Nguyen through Dong Dau and Go Mun to Dong Son, the most brilliant period of development in national history. Recently, the Vinh Phuc Department of Culture and Information and the Viet Nam Institute of Archaeology finished the project entitled "Overall Planning of the Dong Dau Site until 2020" with its key task to preserve Thanh Den as a national site and make it an important tourist centre. — VNS

Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency


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