6,000-year-old tombs unearthed in northeast Vietnam

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Hundreds of artifacts found at the 6,000-year-old relic in Bac Kan, aside from the six tombs

Tombs built 6,000 years have just been excavated in Bac Kan Province in the Northeast region, reported newspaper The Thao & Van Hoa (Sports & Culture) this week.

Six tombs have been dug up at the province's Na Mo Cave in Huong Ne Commune, Ngan Son District, 180 kilometers north of Hanoi.

Local archaeologists used the absolute dating method on snail shells found inside the tomb to determine that the relics dated back more than 6,000 years ago.

The items, of which four have been exposed to the open air, were found together with broken skeletons excluding skulls and teeth, said excavation team leader Professor Trinh Nang Chung of the Hanoi-based Institute of Archaeology.

That the team couldn't find any traces of the human skulls and teeth at the site raised the hypothesis among the scientists that the corpses were victim to "headhunting" practices in which the early peoples of Southeast Asia would steal skulls to rob the dead of their power.

Two skeletons among the six were buried with cutting tools made of stone as burial belongings. The tombs were made of stones.

The discovery is considered new evidence and a major stepping stone in the study of the prehistory of Bac Kan in particular and Vietnam in general since the cave is known to have been the home of many generations of early humans.

According to researchers and scientists, the first residents of the cave were of the Hoa Binh Bac Son culture (4,000 BC 5,000 BC), whereas the last ones had lived there during the late Stone Age early Iron Age.

Aside from the cutting tools, hundreds of artifacts made of ceramic and stone, including jewelry, tools, ochre (a soil of yellow color, mixed with water to decorate the bodies of both the dead and the living) that represent the two cultures have been unearthed at the site.

In addition, scientists have collected many samples of spores for further research on the ancient ecological environment of the area.

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