|Archaeologists excavate antiques from a sunken ship in Binh Chau Commune in the central province of Quang Ngai. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Long
by Trung Hieu
Participants at a seminar held yesterday in Ha Noi affirmed Viet Nam's sovereignty over its seas and islands.
The seminar was held by the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (under Ha Noi National University – NHU) and funded by HNU's Asia Research Centre.
It aimed to give scientists a space to discuss issues in archaeology regarding the seas and islands – a new field in Viet Nam. It also helped the university's history faculty collect materials to build upon the new subject Archaeology of Viet Nam's Seas and Islands.
Professor Nguyen Quang Ngoc of HNU said the Archaeology Institute under the National Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities surveyed and excavated the islands of Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago from 1993 to 1999.
"The archaeological results in Truong Sa Lon, Nam Yet, Sinh Ton and Son Ca islands and surveys on six other islands found relics and artefacts belonging to the Sa Huynh culture and people in the Kingdom of Champa in central Viet Nam," Ngoc said.
"Excavators also found pieces of terracotta and porcelain from the 13th and 14th centuries – and recent centuries – on these islands.
"We have evidence that on the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago and Truong Sa Archipelago, there are vestiges of Vietnamese people dating from prehistoric times to modern. They have continuously been there, working and residing. This is firm evidence for Viet Nam's sovereignty, following international law."
Associate Professor Lai Van Toi of the Kinh Thanh Research Centre said various types of artefacts and materials were found on Truong Sa Archipelago.
"In total we collected 498 artefacts," he said. "The terracotta items were from the 14th to 18th centuries, originating from central and northern Viet Nam."
Excavators found coins from the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945) that were made during the reign of King Minh Mang and King Tu Duc on Truong Sa Archipelago's Nam Yet and Song Tu Tay islands.
"The existence of Nguyen dynasty coins on these islands suit scientist Le Quy Don's notes in his book Phu Bien Tap Luc, written in 1776. He wrote that the Nguyen Lords in southern Viet Nam sent many sailor teams to Hoang Sa and Truong Sa to collect seafood and products from sunken ships.
"The artefacts found in Truong Sa proved Vietnamese people's presence on these islands earlier, at least starting from the Tran dynasty in the 13th century," Toi said.
Archaeologists found 11 relics in Con Dao Island District in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and four relics in Phu Quoc Island District in the southern province of Kien Giang. These relics included residential areas and tombs that proved the existence of residential communities on these islands thousands years ago.
"There is evidence that can't be denied that ancient Vietnamese people occupied the Southern Viet Nam seas and islands," Toi said.
Nguyen Dinh Chien of the Viet Nam National History Museum spoke to the seminar about pottery and porcelain products found in six sunken ships in Viet Nam's seas.
These include an ancient ship found in Cu Lao Cham seas of Quang Nam Province, excavated between 1997 and 1999; the Binh Thuan ancient ship, excavated between 2001 and 2002; and the Binh Chau in Quang Ngai Province, excavated in 2013.
Excavators found various types of pottery and porcelain products in the ships, which were made in Viet Nam and other countries such as China and Thailand.
"Pottery and porcelain products found in these sunken ships in Vietnamese seas in the last decades have provided huge potential for studying trade on the East Sea," Chien said.
"We can also try to learn more about the pottery and porcelain of Viet Nam, China and Thailand in the 13th to 18th centuries." — VNS