2,000-year-old bronze drum unearthed in northern Vietnam

By Le Hoang   September 25, 2016 | 11:01 pm PT
2,000-year-old bronze drum unearthed in northern Vietnam
The drum was found deep under the ground in damaged condition, with several dents on its surface and body. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Long
The landowner's heart must have skipped a beat when he pulled out the Dong Son relic.

A resident in the northern province of Thanh Hoa unearthed an ancient bronze drum yesterday while digging the foundations for his house.

The drum, 59cm in diameter and 43cm in height, was found deep underground in a damaged condition, with several dents to the surface and body.

Based on its shape and patterns, researchers said the item is a Dong Son bronze drum, an icon of the Dong Son culture, a complex society of farmers and sailors who lived in what today is northern Vietnam and made bronze and iron objects between about 600 BC and 200 AD.

The object has specifically been identified as a type I (Heger I) bronze drum in accordance with the 1902 typology of Austrian scholar Franze Heger, and dates back approximately 2,000-2,500 years, said Dr. Do Quang Trong, director of the Ho Citadel Heritage Conservation Centre.

Local authorities and related departments are in the process of taking the antiquity in for preservation under the provisions of Vietnam's Law on Cultural Heritage.

Dong Son drums were the earliest form of bronze drums found in Southeast Asia and southern China, and have been used by many different ethnic groups from prehistoric times to the present.

Typical designs on these highly ornamental drums reflect a sea-oriented society, featuring boats, warriors, birds, animals, fish and geometric symbols for clouds and thunder.

The Dong Son culture got its name from Dong Son Village on the banks of the Ma River in Thanh Hoa Province. A number of bronze drums were also found by chance in 1924, marking the first evidence of the culture's existence.

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