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Ancient Chăm tower excavated in central province

Update: July, 23/2019 - 16:28

PHÚ YÊN – Archaeologists have announced the results of recent excavations at the site of a Chăm tower in the central province of Phú Yên which proved the tower was among the earliest of its kind, dating from around the fourth century.

Workers at the Đồng Miếu Chăm tower site in Phú Hòa District, Phú Yên Province. –Photo truyenhinhdulich.vn

Researcher Nguyễn Tiến Đông, head of the Urban Archaeology Department of the Việt Nam Archaeology Institute, said Đồng Miếu relic site is located near the upper region of the Ba River, 10km from Tuy Hòa City and 2km from Hồ Citadel, the ancient administration centre of the Chăm Pa Kingdom.

Today, the site is in Phú Hòa Town, Phú Hòa District, Phú Yên Province.

Archaeologists excavated the site and unearthed the foundation and body of a temple, or Chăm tower, which collapsed long ago.

“We found traces of a bridge and a dam, which might have been a product of the Chăm Pa Kingdom,” Đông said. “We found broken pieces of Chăm ceramic art with square decoration patterns.”

Đông said the tower is small for its kind but was built mostly out of bricks rather than stones.

The tower was rebuilt once.

“What makes the tower different from other Chăm towers is that ancient Chăm people used a kind of vegetable oil, maybe 'dầu rái' in local language, and mingled it with some substance to create a mixture," he said. "They put the mixture on to the bricks to make the bricks stick into one another.

“This finding rejects the earlier assumption that there was no glue between bricks in Chăm architecture.

“The glue layer is very thin and scientists have not noticed it before,” he said.

Đông said that based on different types of bricks and materials found at the tower, archaeologists guessed the tower was first built in the fourth century and then rebuilt in the fifth century.

“This is the earliest remnant of a Chăm Pa brick tower found so far,” he said. “French scientists did not even know about the tower. Before this, scholars of Chăm architecture thought Chăm Pa architecture dated from the seventh century."

The late Professor Trần Quốc Vượng had sketched a map of the small Chăm Pa region with a big river (perhaps Ba River in Phú Yên) as the main axis. From the axis, ports and urban areas developed on both sides of the river.  

“Archaeologists have also found a big jar of coins, which are now kept at Phú Yên Museum,” Đông said.

He said the Đồng Miếu site may have been the holy land of the small Chăm Pa region.

The Chăm Pa kingdom ruled in the central coastal region of Việt Nam between the fourth and 13th centuries. Many towers could remain undiscovered in the area. –VNS

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