The Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences asked the prime minister to preserve an 11th century holy site that was unearthed during the construction of a new government center.
The academy issued their appeal on November 10, but their request only became public last week.
The social scientists said the construction of the new National Assembly building and Ba Dinh Hall has encroached upon a site that was considered very holy during the Ly Dynasty (1009–1225).
They said the relic consists of an altar made of wood and stone.
The altar allegedly served as the place where the Ly emperors prayed to God and the Earth and received instructions about how to protect the country.
At the time of its construction, China claimed to be the only monarchy in the East capable of communing with the gods, making the Ba Dinh altar even more significant to Vietnam's national pride and independence, the academy argued.
The altar shares architectural characteristics with others of its kind, and also carries several typical Vietnamese traits, they said.
For these reasons the academy appealed to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to halt construction on an underground parking lot, and leave the altar alone.
Part of the 400 square meter relic has been unearthed and the academy suggested that its wooden pillar be buried temporarily until the government devises a proper method to preserve it.
“If the relic is preserved as it was and its value is honored, it could greatly contribute to the teaching of Vietnamese traditions and the promotion of Vietnamese culture,” the academy stated.
The altar was unearthed during the excavation of a complex of buildings that date back to the Ly Dynasty.