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Archaeo News 

26 December 2010
Prehistoric artifacts neglected in Vietnam

Thousands of artifacts dating back to prehistoric age and the Sa Huynh Culture (a culture in central and southern Vietnam that flourished between 1,000 BCE and 200 CE) excavated from Con Rang and Con Dai archaeological sites are stored in a dilapidated warehouse belonging to the Thua ThienHue Museum of History and Revolution. "Local researchers just focus on the Nguyen Dynasty, forgetting and ignoring other periods, including the prehistoric age," researcher Ho Tan Phan said.
     According to a report by the Hue Ancient Capital Relics Preservation Center, since 1990, the center has received VND25-50 billion (US$1.3- 2.6 million) every year to protect and maintain the Nguyen emperors' Complex of Monuments, which was acknowledged as a World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 1993. However, only a relatively small sum is available (about $150,000) to maintain 870 other relics in Hue every year. This is just enough to temporarily prevent them from degradation, according to director Phan Tien Dung of the province's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism. "This imbalanced policy has led many relics to suffer and pushed them to serious degradation at present," Dung said.
     Thousands of artifacts dating back to prehistoric age and the Sa Huynh Culture are kept in a dilapidated warehouse belonging to the Thua Thien-Hue Museum of History and Revolution. The museum has no space to display these artifacts, according to its director Cao Huy Hung, who said he feels ashamed to open its doors to visitors. "In rainy days, we have to cover the objects with raincoats or waterproof cloths," Hung said, "and thousands of valuable and rare artifacts have had to 'migrate' to the Temple of Literature inside the Complex of Monuments for more than 30 years."
     According to researchers Tran Duc Anh Son and Nguyen Phuoc Hai Trung, director of the Hue Royal Fine Arts Museum, "A proper, well-constructed museum building alone cannot change the situation, for most museums in Vietnam are considered administrative units, and do not have enough archaeologists and expert care, especially in Hue, where most museum staff are transferred from other sectors."
     According to researcher, Dr. Tran Duc Anh Son, the cultural heritage created during Nguyen Dynasty in Hue is so great and massive that it seemingly obscures what existed before and after its time. All the culture experts and researchers agree that in order to deal with the situation, Hue should have a comprehensive policy on research, conservation and promotion of the values of all historical periods in the province.

Edited from Thanh Nien (24 december 2010)

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