Where cultures converge

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Local archaeologists have unearthed new remnants of four ancient Vietnamese cultures hidden beneath the ground in Hanoi.

At the Dinh Chang field (also known as Dinh Trang) in Dong Anh District, more pieces of the Phung Nguyen, Dong Dau, Go Mun, and Dong Son cultures that inhabited the Red River Delta millennia ago are being dug up for the first time.

Lead excavator Dr. Lai Van Toi from the Institute of Archaeology said that while there were other archaeological sites in the capital, such as Thanh Den in the Me Linh area, only in Dinh Chang do artifacts from all four civilizations converge.

Hanoi excavation sites were previously known primarily for their Dong Dau culture (1,000BC) artifacts.

The deepest and oldest culture now being brought out of the earth at the site is that of Phung Nguyen, which dates back to 3,500 4,000 years ago.

The result from the most recent of seven excavations was surprising to Vietnamese archaeologists in their discovery of a system of 45 Dong Son (700- 100BC) stoves densely arranged and facing northwest and southeast.

In addition, a large copper cooking pot, mold-castings and other objects made of bronze were found filling an excavated area of around 300 square meters during the dig early this year, according to scientists who spoke at a press conference June 16.

Toi said that the Vietnamese thousands of years ago used advanced techniques to build stoves for casting. Although the stoves are made of soil, they are reinforced by bamboo frame systems.

Toi said that discovery of the stoves have given local scientists more evidence confirming their belief in the existence of a brass workshop beside the residential and burial areas previously unearthed over 27 years of digging since 1983.

A system of holes with columns facing northeast and southwest was also just discovered. One row includes 11 or 16 evenly spaced holes.

From these findings, the team believes that the system of holes was probably used to install stakes that reinforced the Hoang Giang riverbank. Others have argued that this could have been the outermost rampart of the Co Loa Citadel.

Co Loa Citadel was built near Phong Khe, about 20 km to the North of today's Hanoi, during the end of the Hong Bang Dynasty (about 257 BCE). The site has been the source of various relics from the Dong Son culture of the Bronze Age.

Toi said surveys had indicated that there were probably many more artifacts still hidden all over the 20,000 sq.m Dinh Chang area.

The layers of Dong Son and Phung Nguyen items are separated quite clearly. Nearest to the ground is Dong Son culture, then Go Mun (1,000-700 BC), Dong Dau, and the last is Phung Nguyen.

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