At the end of September 2013, in order to add more information for the exhibition of Vietnamese Archaeological Treasures to be opened in Germany, (2014 – 2016), a field research has been carried out in Ngoc Khe hamlet, Phu Ninh commune, Thuy Nguyen district, Hai Phong city, in which the Viet Khe ancient tomb was found over a half century ago. The research was led by archaeologists from German Archaeology Institute, Vietnam Archaeology Institute and VNMH.
The ancient tomb is now exhibited in VNMH, at no. 1, Pham Ngu Lao street, Hanoi.
1. As recorded, 5 ancient tombs were found by workers in a construction site called Viet Khe (Ngoc Khe hamlet, Phu Ninh commune, Thuy Nguyen district, Hai Phong city) in March to May 1961. The tombs hold caskets made in trunk dug inside and placed in an area of 400m2, at 1,5m - 2m depth, at a rice field 50m far from Han River.
Researchers ask for the location where the tomb was excavated
Find locations in a map on Mot hill
- All the tombs were in a boat shape, 4,67m length for the big one, 4,54m for the smaller one, its fore is 0,44m - 0,57m, aft is 0,58m - 0,77m and covered with semicircle wooden planks.
- Four of total five tombs found without any objects, but the second tomb contained 107 objects (?) including 93 bronze objects of labor tools (chisels, files, knives), weapon (axes, daggers, javelins, spears, swords), musical instruments (drums, bells), and jars, tureens, trays, ewers, lamp…Besides, there were some objects made of terracotta, leather, textile and weaving. All human bones were degraded.
Asking people who were in Viet Khe tomb excavation
- Inside the caskets, objects such as vases, censers, jars, bronze drums had been put in the aft, while the fore was for tools and weapons like axes, chisels, daggers. Others like spears, paddles were put at sides, and bells, trays, jars and a piece of leather was in the middle.
Viet Khe tomb was found playing an important role in studying Dong Son culture in general and funeral rituals at over 2000 years ago in particular. Based on the tomb’s size and number of objects as big as founded, researchers said the tomb should have belonged to a rich person or a military nobleman (as the majority of objects are weapons).
The pond where found the Viet Khe tomb
2. From such above understandings about Viet Khe tomb, we have carried out a field research in Ngoc Khe hamlet, Phu Ninh commune, Thuy Nguyen district, Hai Phong city, and obtained some information fascinating more than ever as followings:
- The place finding out the tomb is located in Ngoc Khe village, under Mot hill, next by Kinh Thay River, and close to Hai Duong province. Le Van Phi (who was born in 1930, a worker in the excavation) said the objects were seen in two tombs, but he was not sure if there had been in 3 another tombs or not. Therefore, a question is that if 107 objects preserved in VNMH belong to only one tomb, as we have known or not?
- Moreover, according to some old locals, there had been a statue of a man riding on a horse, in length of 20cm, height of 5cm, gold plated (?). If it is true, it shall be a valuable object for its size and material, if compared with other bronze objects in Dong Son culture (?).
- The tomb was found in a construction site called Viet Khe, but it was in Ngoc Khe hamlet, Phu Ninh commune while Viet Khe or another hamlet in Phu Ninh commune is far away. If we follow the rule in naming the archaeological relics, this Viet Khe tomb should be called Ngoc Khe ancient tomb (?).
Dr. Nguyễn Văn Đoàn - Deputy Director of VNMH
English: Tran Trang