Update: 9:33 PM GMT+7, Sunday, 05/28/2017
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Boat tomb is one of featured burial forms of Dong Son culture. Boat tombs are being discovered in many Dong Son relics up to now, they thus give us precious evidences for studying features of this famous culture. One of most significant and early discovered boat tombs of Dong Son culture is Viet Khe boat tomb (tomb number 2 – M2).

Viet Khe tomb M2 was discovered in 1961 at the same time with 4 other boat tombs in the rice field along Han river, Ngoc Khe commune, Phu Ninh ward, Thuy Nguyen district, Haiphong city. Viet Khe tomb was most significant among 5 found tombs thanks to its good preservation condition and more than 100 inhumation utensils saved.





Viet Khe tomb was discovered in Viet Khe excavation site in Ngoc Khe commune, Phu Ninh ward, Thuy Nguyen district, Haiphong city in 1961

It was biggest boat tomb belonging to Dong Son culture, it was made from timber trunk with extruded core having the shape of single boat with two ends, one end is bigger than other one. The coffin has a round cross section, 2 parts: body and cover of 4.76 m long and 0.6 m high. The inner side of coffin is even smooth and outer side remained untreated raw with only rind removed.




Viet Khe tomb, Dong Son culture 2500 – 2000 years ago is recognized by the prime minister a state treasure of 2013.

It’s also the boat tomb which has largest amount of inhumation utensils saved, with more than 100 units including many bonze, lacquered, wood, bamboo and leather things but iron and ceramic things were not among them. The utensils were arranged accordingly: relatively big things as drum, vessel, vase, bronze chalice bowl were placed at the larger end of coffin, at smaller end of coffin were placed tools and armaments as axe, punch, knife. In the middle were placed handbell, tray, chalice and a piece of lacquered leather. On the sides of the coffin were placed spears with handholds and wooden paddles. In the bottom of the coffin were placed many interlacements and decayed tissues. The utensils besides related to Dong Son culture were also comprised of things described themselves as the result of cultural interchange as sword, handbell or tray.

The utensils of Viet Khe boat tomb: 



Bronze scoop with the ornament of human playing bagpipes.



  Bronze scoop in mouthpiece shape




Bronze Chalice Bowl


Bronze vase



Bronze vessel.



Bronze bucket



Bronze bowl



Bronze axes



Bronze knives



Bronze punches



Bronze drum



The face of bronze drum

The epoch of Viet Khe tomb M2 is estimated based on making techniques of the coffin on 3th or 2nd century B.C.

The discovery of Viet Khe boat tomb has got importance meaning, it’s not only been precious evidences for studying burial ritual of Dong Son people but ground for studying the history of class formation in Dong Son society, cultural relationship between the regions of Northern Vietnam and Southern China or traditional handicraft industries.

Due to such importance meanings, the prime minister had recognized the Viet Khe tomb a state treasure of 2013, now Viet Khe tomb M2 is being demonstrated in National Museum of History (Hanoi) and it’s always an attractive point for visitors home and abroad.

Ph.D Nguyen Van Doan

Translator: Nguyen Thai Hung

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