Archaeologists discover prehistoric relics inside northern Vietnam caves

By Tue Van   June 18, 2019 | 03:47 am PT
Archaeologists discover prehistoric relics inside northern Vietnam caves
Animals' teeth from prehistoric age found in Puong Cave in Bac Kan Province, northern Vietnam, June 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Van Hanh.
Nearly 100 relics have been discovered inside caves in the Ba Be limestone mountain range in Bac Kan Province.

Members of the Vietnam Archaeological Institute and the Bac Kan Museum have found that many places in the province’s Ba Be District have traces of human presence dating back 8,000-9,000 years.

Trinh Nang Chung, head of the research team, said the overall study has determined that the relics are from the Hoa Binh Culture of the New Stone Age (Neolithic Era).

In Puong Cave, a part of the Ba Be National Park, the team dug and explored a five-meter-square lake where they found vestiges of two old kitchens. The team has not detected any grave remains at the sites, so far.

Nearly 100 relics, mostly stone and bone, were found almost throughout the cave areas.

Stone tools like short axes, rough cutting tools and oval-shaped tools were crafted from pebbles found in rivers and streams, bearing characteristics of the Hoa Binh Culture, archaeologists say. The tools were crafted with rough, rudimentary techniques. The oval-shaped tools in particular and the short axes show adjustments were made to the edge of the blades. No tools have been found with grinding marks.

The team also found animal bones (pigs, monkeys, chimpanzees, etc.), mollusk-shells (river snails, mussels, etc.) and some fruit seeds, which they believe were the food remnants of prehistoric people. The primitive people had split the bones of some animals like pigs, deer, and others, then put it over fire to make spiky tools.

Archaeologists also found a small rectangular stone with three small round holes on its surface. But its function and meaning remain a mystery.

The grinding tools show that hunting and gathering played an important role in the search for food then; and the presence of pebbles, stones with chisel marks, and chiselled pieces suggest that tools were processed.

Comparing the relics found in the Puong Cave with those of the Hoa Binh Culture previously found in Tien Cave at the heart the Ba Be National Park, researchers have found very similar characteristics. This, they say, proves that residents of Puong Cave and Tien Cave had a close relationship with each other.

The discovery has enriched the awareness of prehistoric culture in Bac Kan Province in particular and Vietnam in general, archaeologists say. Archaeologists are continuing to explore the Dong Puong site through July and plan further excavations in the near future.

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