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15 January 2005
Bronze Age log canoe found in Vietnam

Australian archaeologists have unearthed one of the oldest log canoes ever found in South-East Asia. A team from the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra and conservators from the National Museum of Australia excavated a 2.5m section of the boat last month at Dong Xa, about 50 kilometres southeast of the capital Hanoi (Vietnam). The boat was used for burial and contained the body of an adult. It would have been about 10m long and was believed to have been used in the Red River delta area around 100 BCE by a people known as the Dongson, ANU's Peter Bellwood said.
     "This was a Bronze Age culture, the people were quite well known because they manufactured very large bronze drums which often had designs on them, and many of the designs show these boats," Professor Bellwood said. "We've only found one end of it. The end was chopped off and used for burial. It's one of the oldest surviving boats under conservation in South-East Asia."
     Project co-ordinator Judith Cameron, a specialist in prehistoric textiles from ANU, said the adult's body was covered with a shroud and surrounded by pottery and a large amount of matting. "These textiles will reveal a great deal about the material and structural composition of textiles and the role of cloth in burials by the Dongson people more than 2000 years ago," Dr Cameron said. Samples of the textiles and the bark lid and wood of the coffin are being analysed in Canberra. The team also excavated the grave of a young child at Dong Xa, and will return to Vietnam in December.

Source: The Australian (14 January 2005)

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