Vietnam Academy Of Social Sciences

Approach to Vietnamese prehistoric marine culture through research papers


Cơ quan soạn thảo: Việt Nam Institute of Archaeology

Contacting Address: Việt Nam Institute of Archaeology; Publishing House of Social Sciences

Publication year: 2015

Pages quantity: 559

Vietnam is a maritime country with the system of marine cultures and its own characteristics in the common context of Southeast Asian mainland and islands. Research into the issues of Vietnamese prehistoric marine cultures is a great significant theme, not only to study the original features of Vietnamese history and culture but also to contribute to the research and confirmation of Vietnamese maritime sovereignty.

Apart from the appendix of the plates, the content is presented in 3 parts: Part 1- Prehistoric culture in the mountainous and marine areas of Northern Vietnam; Part 2 - Prehistoric marine culture in Central Vietnam; Part 3 - Prehistoric marine culture in Southern Vietnam.

Vietnam is geographically well-known for its location at the crossroads of international maritime East - West, with the marine ecological environment that is peaceful and diversified but extremely stormy and climatically severe.

In terms of history and culture, it was an early assembly and growth hub of the prehistoric communities, which has been continuously developing to date. It is this area that serves as a source for the development of the marine economy, culture, international trade contacts, sovereign and security of Vietnamese sea and islands.

As for time, the system of the prehistoric marine culture started from the early medium stage of Neolithic – late Hoa Binh and Bac Son cultures, circa the sixth – fifth centuries BC, to the Iron Age - several centuries AD.

Regarding space, the Vietnamese prehistoric marine cultures were distributed from Móng Cái border area to Phu Quoc and islands of the Ha Tien - Kien Giang gulf area. In Northern Vietnam, there is mainly system of the Cai Beo - Ha Long culture in Hai Phong - Quang Ninh, even on the islands of Ha Long and Bai Tu Long bays. In Central Vietnam, there is the system of the Da But - Hoa Loc cultures in Thanh Hoa province, and possibly in southern Ninh Binh. The next system includes the cultures of Quynh Van - Thach Lac - Bau Tro, and possibly the Sa Huynh culture in the provinces of Nghe An - Ha Tinh - Quang Binh - Quang Tri - Thua Thien, which even affected the northern Tay Nguyen. In addition, there is the system of the Bau Du - Bau Tram - Bai Ong - Ly Son and Xom Con cultures in the coastal and islandish areas of the middle and southern parts of Central Vietnam. Finally, the Sa Huynh culture, the predecessor of Champa culture, is one of the sources of the Oc Eo Culture and Funan civilization. It stretches along Central Vietnam and part of Southern Vietnam, and covers all over the islands in southern part of South China Sea, from Spratly to Phu Quy - Con Dao - Tho Chu - Phu Quoc - Nam Du - Lai Son - Hon Tre, etc., and the other islands in Ha Tien - Kien Giang bays.

The systems of the Vietnamese prehistoric marine cultures have been formed and developed through 6 millenniums all over the coastal and islandish plains from Northern to Southern Vietnam. The indigenous basic cultural structure of the system of Vietnamese marine cultures is the system of the Hòa Bình - Bắc Sơn cultures and their descendants. In the late Neolithic – early Metal Age, circa 4,000BP – 3,000BP and later, the lower sea levels freed plains, which served as a premise for the development of the cultural history. The cultural trade interaction, integration and acculturation dramatically occurred in all the four directions of West - East, North - South, which served as a premise for the formation of the archaeological cultures of Ha Long - Hoa Loc - Thach Lac - Bau Tro - Xom Con, etc., with the tribes and minorities of the Austronesian and Austroasiatic languages. After that, there was integration and acculturation of the mountainous and high land cultural factors with those of the lower marine areas and formed the Dong Son - Sa Huynh cultures and then the Champa and Oc Eo cultures.

Referring to the prehistoric marine cultures is chiefly to mention the cultural ecological characteristics in order to emphasize the trendy, periodic and logic characteristics of Vietnamese cultural and civilisational development. That is the cultural development from the highlands to the lowlands, from the mountainous areas to the plains and coastal plains, and then the occupation, exploitation and mastery of the sea and islands. It is the evolution of residence from caves to open-air, from the economy of natural exploitation to that of production, from the primitive communities to the rural communities and the state formation. It is also a base, an approach to better clarify the structure and nature of Vietnamese culture, of the parental pair of Genie Mother (Mountain) – Dragon Father (Sea), the national origin many thousands of years ago.

From the facts of archaeological approach to Vietnamese prehistoric marine cultures, the cultural system in the national "front", it is clear to realize that the unity in diversity, the traditionalism in innovation of Vietnamese culture has been actually spectacular for tens of thousands of years. “Approach to Vietnamese prehistoric marine culture through research papers” covers almost all the prehistoric sites from the mountainous and coastal areas in Northern Vietnam to the prehistoric marine cultural sites in Central and Southern Vietnam, which preliminarily outlines a vivid and diversified picture of Vietnamese marine cultures. Therefore, although there is no systematically, comprehensively complete and insightful summary, the authors are able to introduce Vietnamese marine cultural nature in the strategic direction to sea and sea mastery from time immemorial to the future, laying a solid high-quality brick on a long way to study Vietnamese marine culture and further clarify the position and role of South China Sea and the sea and island mastery, which is the vital cause and the future of the national development that many Vietnamese ancestral generations have constructed for ages so that we have opportunities and premises to reach a higher level.

As expected, the book will provide useful information for those interested in the national historical and cultural development; in the process of exploiting and mastering the sea and islands by Vietnamese ancestors from time immemorial.

                               Nguyễn Thu Hà

Author :
  • Nguyễn Trung Chiến (Ed.)