The grave with boat-shape coffin is a common burying way of late Dong Son culture and still existed up to recent centuries. Through the archaeological excavations, this type of burial can also be seen in Southern China, Thailand, Indonesia and Philippine and mostly dated back early Iron Age.
The Viet Khe boat-shaped coffin was discovered in 1961 in Việt Khê construction site, Ngọc Khê hamlet, Phù Ninh commune, Thủy Nguyên district, Hải Phòng City.
The coffin was made of trunk, diameter 1m, with two ends made of thick planks. It is almost in a shape of a boat.
Bronze bells in the coffin
It found no human remains but 107 grave goods including vase, urns, jars, censers, drums, axes, spearheads, chisels, bells, trays and a leather piece. Bronze objects are 90% including urns, vessels, jars, censers, pots, lamps, weapons…It can say that no other excavation has found such big quantity and multi-types as much as Viet Khe coffin.
Bronze weapons are chisels, swords, daggers, spearheads, javelins. There is a range of axes with blades in angle, trapezoid and rectangular shape. Axes are very popular in archaeology especially in the Bronze Age in Vietnam. The axe with blade in angle shape is a special type and famous that we found in Viet Khe coffin.
Bronze music instruments: Drum, bells.
Other items are oars still in good condition, a wooden spearhead handle, stone, fabric, weaving remains.
Axe with blade in angle shape
According to studies on Dong Son culture, the coffin in boat shape - a waterway vehicle, and the oars inside the coffin, reflex the fact that the life of the person attached to the water and the belief in life and dead. The number and types of objects have shown that the owner should belong to a high-ranking social class or noble. It also reveals that Dong Son society was developed into social class period or rich and poor. This split in social class and its development led to a foundation to form the first Vietnamese state or Van Lang state.
Lê Thị Huệ (compiled)
English: Tran Trang