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Archaeologists uncover ancient trade network in southern Vietnam

By Ha Phuong   August 21, 2017 | 06:53 pm GMT+7
Archaeologists uncover ancient trade network in southern Vietnam
The excavation site at Rach Nui in Southern Vietnam. Photo courtesy: Australian National University

The discovery changes what we know about early Vietnamese culture.

A team of archaeologists from the Australian National University (ANU) has uncovered the remnants of a vast trade network dating back 4,500 years in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

The study, published in Antiquity journal last week, unveils how a number of settlements along the Mekong Delta region were part of a sophisticated supply chain that stretched over hundreds of kilometers.

"We knew some artifacts were being moved around but this shows evidence for a major trade network that also included specialist tool-makers and technological knowledge," Catherine Frieman, lead researcher and an expert in ancient stone tools, was quoted by the journal as saying. "It's a whole different ball game." 

"This isn't a case of people producing a couple of extra items on top of what they need. It's a major operation," she added.

The discovery was made after Frieman and her team dug up a collection of items that included stone axe heads at Rach Nui in southern Vietnam.

"The Rach Nui region had no stone resources. So the people must have been importing the stone and working it to produce the artifacts," said Frieman. “Those stone objects may come from 80 kilometers away in the upper reaches of Dong Nai river valley.”

The stone grinding tools found at Rach Nui in Southern Vietnam which were used for making tools such as axe heads. Photo courtesy: Australian National University

Grinding tools found at Rach Nui in southern Vietnam which were used to make tools such as axe heads. Photo courtesy of Australian National University

Another researcher, Phillip Piper claimed that many archaeological sites in southern Vietnam are relatively close to each other, but show evidence of different materials, suggesting that communities along the tributaries rapidly developed their own cultures.