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Archaeologists find ancient musical instruments

Update: January, 26/2005 - 00:00

Archaeologists find ancient musical instruments


Musical instruments thought to be about 3,000 years old have been found by a team of Vietnamese archeologists.

Known as lithophones, the ancient instruments are typically made of 11 slabs of stone.

The lithophones were found in the southern province of Binh Duong in early January at a site that stretches some 20ha near a small hill in My Loc village in Tan My Commune of Tan Uyen District.

The broken instruments were buried deep in an 8sq.m pit, said Dr Bui Chi Hoang, deputy director of the Archaeology Centre of the Southern Institute for Social and Human Sciences.

Hoang said the first discovery of ancient lithophones took place at an archeaological dig in Binh Da Village in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.

"This finding marks a milestone in the long history of traditional musical instruments in the country," he said.

In 1949, lithophones were also found by French ethnologist Georges Condominas in N’Dut Lieng Krac Village of the Central Highlands province of Dac Lac. The instrument was exhibited in Paris a year later.

Hoang said an ancient Vietnamese lithophone is also housed in a museum in Los Angeles.

Ancient lithophones have been found in Loc Tan (Binh Phuoc Province) and Di Linh (Lam Dong Province) as well.

Prof Le Xuan Diem, of the Southern Institute of Social and Human Sciences, said the instrument was previously believed to be a musical instrument of the people in the Central Highlands.

"But recent discoveries have shown that lithophones were also used in ancient villages along Dong Nai River."

The My Loc archeological site was jointly excavated by the Archeology Centre and Binh Duong Museum under a programme conducted by the Binh Duong Department for Sciences and Technology from December 6 last year to January 12.

In addition to ancient lithophones, archeologists found hundreds of pieces of stone tools such as axes, hoes, graters, and porcelain wares, including pots, jars and bowls.

These remains have helped archeologists date the site to 3,000 to 3,500 years ago.

The discovery also sheds light on the history of the eastern section of the South Viet Nam and Binh Duong Province. — VNS

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