Urgently needed: Preservation of Vuon Chuoi archaeological site

11:18 | 20/08/2018 Culture & Art

(VEN) - The Bronze Age Vuon Chuoi archaeological site, believed to be Hanoi’s first human settlement, is under threat of destruction by massive construction projects.

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preservation of vuon chuoi archaeological site
Excavation at the Vuon Chuoi archaeological site

The site in Lai Xa Village in Kim Chung Commune of the capital’s Hoai Duc District is the most important and largest relic complex of the pre-Dong Son and Dong Son Cultures (700 BC-AD 100) in Vietnamese history.

Historical values

Vietnamese scientists have long waged a campaign for the preservation of the city’s invaluable archaeological treasure, and they recently gathered at a seminar held by the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports to discuss the site. Since it was first discovered and excavated in 1969, eight excavations have been conducted at the Vuon Chuoi archaeological site on 800sq.m of its 19,000sq.m area, with the latest excavation in 2014.

A meter-thick layer across the site that contains artefacts offering insight into the lives of ancient people has been exploited. These findings can be traced to the middle phase of the Bronze Age, coinciding with the Dong Dau Culture (1,500-1,000 BC). Additionally, vestiges and artefacts of various shapes and historical ages found there have also proved the site’s significant archaeological value.

Hoang Van Diep from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities of Hanoi’s National University, said the relic represents the development and daily lives of Hanoi's first inhabitants in the period from 3200-1500 BC.

Encroachment pressure

The need to preserve the archaeological site has become more urgent as a construction project is planned for Kim Chung Commune.

In 2007, authorities of Ha Tay Province, which has since been incorporated into Hanoi, approved the development of a new urban area on 145.8ha covering the area of Vuon Chuoi.

Though the construction project by the Vietnam Trading Engineering Construction Joint-Stock Corporation (Vietracimex) has not begun, the archaeological site is being encroached by local residents and is under threat of being wiped out. After the construction project was approved, many local residents planted fruit trees within the site. A cement mixing station for the construction of the new urban area has also been built there.

Artefact theft has been a particular problem since 2008. Though the extent of thefts has dropped, local authorities need to take stronger action to protect the relic.

Another worrying issue, according to Luong Cong Hoa, Deputy Chairman of the Kim Chung Commune People’s Committee, is the planned construction of a road linking Highway 32 to Thang Long Road, which will severely affect the relic.

Preservation need

Prof. Nguyen Van Huy, former director of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology recently sent the Hanoi People's Committee chairman a letter proposing urgent preservation of the Vuon Chuoi archaeological site.

Speaking at the seminar, Chairman of the Vietnamese Archeology Association Tong Trung Tin, urged preservation of the site and proposed several urgent solutions, one of which is compiling dossiers on all the excavated artefacts to create a preliminary evaluation of the relic. After that, thorough study will be conducted to assess its current state.

The scientists also proposed that the city demand the investors adjust their construction project to leave the Vuon Chuoi archaeological site intact or turn it into a park that will both protect the relic and benefit the urban area.

Supporting the proposal, Truong Minh Tien, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports, said the preservation must be in tune with development.

The department will propose to the city people’s committee to conduct an overall study of the 19,000sq.m site, he added.

Thanh Tam