Vietnam Academy Of Social Sciences

Pre - and Proto – Historic Hallmark in the Plei Krong Reservoir, Kon Tum


Contacting Address: Institute of Archeology; Social Sciences Publishing House

Publication year: 2014

Pages quantity: 744

The book “Pre - and Proto – Historic Hallmark in the Plei Krong Reservoir, Kon Tum” is outcome of a ministry - level scientific project named Classification, Study, Preservation and Restoration of archaeologically excavated relics and artefacts in the Reservoir of Plei Krong Hydro-Electric Power Plant (Kon Tum) managed by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Khac Su (Institute of Archeology) in two years, from 2011 to 2013, which achieved excellent result.

This book contains 5 chapters with 13 maps, 152 drawings, and 202 color pictures and covers these following contents:

Chapter 1 – Overview of materials in Plei Krong Reservoir – general social geography as well as investigating and excavating situation in Plei Krong Reservoir. Archeology materials in Plei Krong Reservoir are highly concentrated and closely related to the landscape environment of low – land Kon Tum where is the confluence of two biggest rivers in North Highlands, Dak Bla and Krong Poko. This is also the oldest living place of people of Gie – Trieng, Xo Dang and Ba Na groups who spoke Mon – Khmer language and belonged to Nam A linguistic system and Gia Rai people who spoke Malayo-Polynesien language belonged to Nam Dao linguistic system.

Chapter 2 – Monuments and archaeological materials excavated in Krong Poko Reservoir – briefly summarizing the excavating results in Plei Krong Reservoir in a sequence of: location of historic sites, process of discovery and excavation; research outcomes on stratigraphy, kitchens, burials, black pits, ceramic clusters, blast furnace; archaeological materials excavated including: stone, metal and ceramic materials, and a preliminary review on nature, age, historic and cultural values of each site.

Chapter 3 – Basic characteristics of monuments, archaeological materials, age and developing periods – overall research of basic characteristics of archaeology in reservoir, age and developing stages. The authors made several findings as follow:

  • Pre - and Proto – people here lived together in some old villages along two sides of Krong Poko river and formed groups, each group contained a couple of adjoining monuments, a core village with thick cultural layer, various artifacts, original village and surrounded by satellite villages where has a thin cultural layer and reflected the occasional habit of residence.
  • In each living place, there are vestiges of multi – stories house, kitchen and sometimes place for crafting stone, metallurgy and burials. Kitchens for cooking have a small scope, and for the craft are bigger and also vestiges of temporary kitchens for hunters to rest overnight. In general, kitchens are small, used for few people, short period of residence and seasonal migrated pattern.

Chapter 4 - Pre - and Proto – Archaeology in Plei Krong Reservoir in the circumstance of Vietnam and South East Asia – to explore cultural relations between reservoir and other parts of Central Highland, South-Eastern, Central and northern South of Vietnam as well as pre – history of Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. The authors suggested that monuments in Plei Krong reservoir have many similarities with Bien Ho culture (Gia Lai), pre- Sa Huynh and Sa Huynh in central coast, and they are difference from monuments in South and South East of Central Highland. Over the course of development, pre – historic Kon Tum has a close relationship with the culture of Son Vi, Hoa Binh, Dong Son (North of Vietnam) and Upper Laos Metal Age. The significant historic and cultural values of archaeology in Plei Krong Reservoir are the existence of agriculture using hoes and rice achievement; center of casting metal and iron; participation in labor distribution of society, identification of Lung Leng culture and creation of unity in diversity of Pre – Proto – Historic culture in the middle of Central Highland at the end of New Stone Age period and the beginning of Metal Age.

Chapter 5 – The appearance of historic culture in Plei Krong Reservoir – to briefly summary the cultural developing progress in Plei Krong Reservoir through Paleolithic, New Stone Age and Metal Age periods with specific characteristics of economy, social organization and, especially, technological achievements of social community here.

Through archaeological findings, the authors concluded that sights of Paleolithic, New Stone Age in reservoir are very faint. In this period, residence is still very little, crafted bamboo wood and stone tools are rudimentary and they have no idea of ceramic and unique hunting – collecting. After two thousand years, metallurgy is appeared and followed by bronze and iron. Farming activities are expanded and there is food to reserve; the population is started to rise and people gathered in small groups under only leader similar to elders style. Iron tools associated with forge bellows, handheld drill by nephrite stone, a turntable for ceramic products, jewelries are made from metal and there would be a possibility of having boat or vehicle with wheels that marked the step of human into a civilized society.

The developing progress of pre- and proto- historic Kon Tum culture is basically continuous, always interference and associated with outside areas, especially the biggest civilizations of Vietnam such as Dong Son and Sa Huynh that makes culture here is very various, diverse and open.

Along with the other monuments in Kon Tum, monuments in Plei Krong Reservoir is a part of Lung Leng culture, distributed mainly in low mountains of Sapa and low lands of Kon Tum which existed from New Stone Age to Metal Age. Residences of Lung Leng culture are farmers and knew how to do metallurgy, to create working tools from iron and copper. Into Metal Age, Lung Leng is a center of Metal Age in Central Highland and interfered with Dong Son culture in producing copper items and with Northern Laos people and Sa Huynh culture in producing iron and ceramic items, and shared burials, the mouth-to-mouth pot burial. The owner of Lung Leng culture could be the result from the communication of people who speak Mon – Khmer language in Ba Na, Kon Tum who came first and Gia rai Arab who speak Malayo-Polynesian language and came later from highlands Pleiku.  

Among these culture heritages at the reservoir, there are noticeable historic culture vestiges as well as Champa, Dai Viet, and Chinese ceramics, copper items of Central Asia like bells, rattles , salt, jewelry, including “processed ceramic” and terracotta pipe were made on the spot, they are found together. However, the numbers of these monuments are lack, found separately and not formed a comprehensive cultural class. They are latest cultural marks at the reservoir and suggest the research of cultural communication during temporary period.

With 744 pages, 13 illustrations map, 152 drawings and 202 color photographs, the book provides information, documents and research’s outcomes of 9 historic sites in relatively big reservoir for managers, researchers, lecturers of Vietnamese historic culture; provides scientific evidence for display in  Kon Tum Museum and contributes into training archaeologists to prepare for fulfilling next missions of Vietnam’s archaeology.

Nguyen Thu Ha

Author :
  • Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Khac Su