|Submerged treasures: A 700-year-old shipwreck salvaged in Quang Ngai Province. — File Photo
QUANG NAM (VNS) — Viet Nam plans to build the country's first Centre for Underwater Archaeological Research in Hoi An this year, Nguyen Giang Hai, the head of Viet Nam's Archaeology Institute, told Viet Nam News yesterday Hai said the centre, which has initial investment of VND200 billion (US$9.5 million), would boost research in underwater archaeology.
"It's a very new science, but Viet Nam has a 3,200km coastline. Many shipwrecks are yet to be discovered. The centre will help the country explore the precious value of underwater heritage and the history of our sea and islands," Hai said.
"The institute has asked for advice from international archaeologists and scientists to build the centre," he said.
The institute will submit a proposal for the centre to the Prime Minister for approval and funding later this year.
Seafaring has been a way of life in Viet Nam for more than 2,000 years.
According to Hai, local people had stolen precious antiques from sunken ships, and 130,000 objects had been stolen in Ca Mau Province alone.
In 2013, two shipwrecks were found off the central coast of Quang Ngai Province, and fragments of ceramic ware and stone statues were also found near Ly Son Island.
Shipwrecks with antiquities were also discovered in the sea off Cham Island in Quang Nam, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Ca Mau, Binh Dinh and Thanh Hoa.
According to some historians, central Vietnamese ports were among the busiest in Asia in the 13th century and one or two thousand years BC, as artwork on the ancient bronze drums shows. — VNS