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Stash of buried treasure sheds more light on Cham civilisation

Dig it: Local residents chip in to help Vietnamese archaeologists find relics of the Cham civilisation. — VNS Photo
KHANH HOA — Gold recently found in an unearthed tomb in Khanh Hoa Province’s Hoa Diem site provides more evidence that the Cham were descendants of native Vietnamese peoples, archaeologists claim.

"We hope the new findings will help archaeologists prove the Cham people are descendants of the Sa Huynh people," said the director of Khanh Hoa Museum, Dr. Nguyen Cong Bang.

"In other words, the Cham people are Vietnamese natives and not migrants," he explained.

Gold has never been found in archaeological digs of the Sa Huynh people, a late prehistoric metal age society on the central cost of Viet Nam, dating back 2,500 to 4,000 years.

"This is the first time we’ve found gold," according to Dr. Tran Quy Thinh from the Institute of Archaeology. "It may be an ornament or funeral gift buried with the corpses."

The Hoa Diem site is 500m from the Cam Ranh Gulf and was examined in 1999 and again this year.

In a recently released study, Cham researchers hypothesised that gold was buried with the dead as a symbol of immortality.

Gold has been found with several stone working tools and ceramics inside ten Cham tombs, at depths of between 30 to 70cm, in a 100sq.m area in Cam Thinh Dong Commune in Cam Ranh township.

According to Dr. Bang, the people who lived there also had relations with people living in Con Village, 5km to the North, which is thought to date back more than 4,000 years to the pre-Sa Huynh culture.

And in other archaeological discoveries, bronzeware recently found by a farmer in Dai Ang Commune in Ha Noi’s Thanh Tri District (also known as Dai Ang or Ke Dam Village) when digging foundations for his house, are thought to belong to the Dong Son culture, which dates back 2,500-3,000 years.

The findings, a knife, axe and two chisels, are indigo coloured, which is believed to be the colour of accompanying burial items.

Nguyen Danh Nam, the house owner, said he stopped digging right after discovering the bronzewares, and the site is now full of rain water. Further excavation will be undertaken by authorities when the wet season ends.

Vietnamese historians believe the concept of a Vietnamese nation was formed during the Dong Son era, under the 18 Hung Kings.

Important links have been established between the Dong Son culture and the Tibeto-Burman, Thai, and especially Mon-Khmer cultures which includes the Lao Plain of Jars plateau.

Ha Noi has about 54 archaeological sites related to the Hung Vuong kings, four of them located in Thanh Tri District.

Reprinted with permission from VietNam News Agency.


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