HA NOI (VNS)— Provinces have failed to submit archaeological masterplans despite a deliberate call to action enshrined in the 2010 National Cultural Heritage Law.
The law states that every province must create an archaeological masterplan; inclusive of maps identifying archaeological sites, and preferred excavation and preservation methods.
The issue was raised at the 48th National Archaeological Conference that took place in Ha Noi on Thursday.
"At the same conference two years ago, I informed that Khanh Hoa will be the first province in the country to complete the archaeological masterplan. However, the masterplan has not completed officially," said director of the Institute of Archaeology, Tong Trung Tin.
"No province has a completed archaeological masterplan. We are at the same stage we were back then," said Tin.
Although archaeological experts in Khanh Hoa had completed a masterplan, no document had been submitted to authorities for feedback or official approval.
"It is useless when the masterplan can't get the relevant authority approval," Tin said.
The problem appeared to show a similar trend in Ha Noi.
In 2003, a draft masterplan for archaeological sites in Ha Noi's four centre districts was developed by the Institute of Archaeology to mark the 990th anniversary of Thang Long-Ha Noi.
The masterplan was submitted to the city's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, which, until now, did not provide feedback on the document.
Alleging that the lack of archaeological masterplan has had serious consequences, Tin said "a survey found 80 to 90 per cent of iron-age archaeological sites had disappeared because they hadn't been on the preservation list. Among the disappeared sites were important locations such as the Phung Nguyen in Phu Tho Province, and the Thuy Nguyen graveyard in Hai Phong."
The same survey also indicated that many archaeological sites found during the construction of roads or houses had been damaged by local residents.
Tin also said that weak management by local authorities had also caused sites to disappear.
"Many years ago, we sent a group of experts to survey the Thuy Son boat graveyard site in Hai Phong, located within the masterplan zone of National Road 10. We emphasised the importance of the site and urged local authorities to protect it. We came back three years later and were shocked: the road was completed and the archaeological site had been cleared," Tin said.
The archeological expert also said that the institute was rarely informed when new archeological sites were discovered by local authorities.
"When we know about the discovery, it is sometimes too late to provide a suitable solution for protecting the specific site because damage may already be inflicted," the veteran archaeologist said.
Currently, cities and provinces, including Ha Noi, HCM City, Bac Ninh, Quang Ninh, and Ba Ria-Vung Tau, have implemented archaeological masterplans and will complete necessary actions soon.
"If all provinces tried their best and worked hard, it would take around 10-15 years to complete all the provincial masterplans," Tin said. — VNS