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Historical artefacts found during Kinh Thien Palace excavation

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Archaeologist Tong Trung Tin’s excitement knew no bounds when he found dragon-shaped tiles in the debris from the excavation of Kinh Thien Palace.

Kinh Thien Palace, excavation, historical artefacts, Vietnam economy, Vietnamnet bridge, English news about Vietnam, Vietnam news, news about Vietnam, English news, Vietnamnet news, latest news on Vietnam, Vietnam

Pieces of dragon-shaped tiles found at the excavation of Kinh Thien Palace. —  Photo Minh Thu

The palace is at the heart of the Thang Long Royal Citadel in Hanoi, Vietnam’s world heritage.

Tin and fellow archaeologists published an annual report yesterday, in which they announced the new discoveries of the archaeological site.

The highlight of the excavation is many dragon-shaped tiles that were used in the roofs of royal palaces during the Early Le dynasty (980-1009).

“The tubular tiles are shaped like dragons with yellow and green enamel,” said Tin.

“Each line of the tiles is shaped like a dragon with the body lying along the roof. The line ends with a dragon tail and starts with a dragon head carved sophisticatedly. The dragon with five-claw legs was used on the roof of the king’s palace, while the one with four-claw legs was used on the roof of the crown prince’s palace. The pieces we found are exactly how they have been described in history,” Tin said.

Even after many centuries, the colour of the enamel is still shiny and brilliant. “I can imagine how splendid and luxurious the palaces were. I have read about the royal palaces in historical books, but it’s interesting to see some parts of them with my own eyes,” he said.

Spread over an area of 1,000sq.m site, the archaeologists found different evidences of culture and architecture, dating back to different dynasties, including Early Le, Ly, Tran and Nguyen dynasties (from the 10th-20th centuries).

“Each layer reflects the unique culture and architecture of a dynasty. We found many pieces of ceramic and pottery of the Mac Dynasty (which ruled the whole of Dai Viet between 1527 and 1533 and the northern part of the country from 1533 until 1592),” Tin said. “However, we did not find any trace of Mac architecture. This is true to what the history books claim: that kings of the Mac Dynasty did not build new palaces and just repaired the available palaces of the previous dynasties.”

At the conference, experts suggested that the excavation site should be widened to give a panoramic view of Kinh Thien Palace as well as an insight into the architectural works of different dynasties in the past.

 “Findings of the excavation last year demonstrated the variety and complexity of the relics within the main area of the palace as well as contributed to clarifying the enormous value of the Thang Long Citadel,” said Bui Minh Tri, director of the Centre for Royal Citadel Studies.

“I suggest the archaeologists draw a map of the whole site to facilitate further research. The map cannot be accurate because we have not dug out the whole site yet, but it can certainly help people get a glimpse of the relics,” Tri said.

The excavation had been conducted by the Thang Long-Ha Noi Heritage Preservation Centre and the Viet Nam Institute of Archaeology on a total area of nearly 1,000sq.m in the main area of Kinh Thien Palace since 2012. It is a small area compared to the scale of the royal citadel, Tri said.

“Working on a small site cannot reflect the comprehensive and exact value and scale of royal architecture. In my opinion, we should target to introduce the value of archaeological research to the public, not only something discussed between scientists,” he added.

According to Luu Tran Tieu, chairman of the National Council on Cultural Heritage, in hundreds of hectares of land of the Thang Long Citadel, thousands of artefacts, dating from the pre-Thang Long period (3rd-10th centuries) to Thang Long-Ha Noi period (11th-early 20th centuries) have been found during the excavation.

“We also found a great number of artefacts in the trench excavated last year. Preliminary results show bricks and tiles dating back to the eighth and ninth centuries, bricks and tiles with dragons, phoenixes, lotus decoration and ceramics during the Ly Dynasty (11th-12th centuries) and the Tran Dynasty (13th-14th centuries) as well as an iron canon of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945).

“Along with architectural vestiges, the artefacts reflect various historical and cultural aspects of Thang Long-Ha Noi,” Tieu said. 

Kinh Thien Palace, excavation, historical artefacts, Vietnam economy, Vietnamnet bridge, English news about Vietnam, Vietnam news, news about Vietnam, English news, Vietnamnet news, latest news on Vietnam, Vietnam

Three intact vases dating from Mac Dynasty were found at the site. —  Photo Minh Thu

Kinh Thien Palace, excavation, historical artefacts, Vietnam economy, Vietnamnet bridge, English news about Vietnam, Vietnam news, news about Vietnam, English news, Vietnamnet news, latest news on Vietnam, Vietnam

The area of 1,000sq.m is excavated to discover different cultural layers of Kinh Thien Palace. —  Photo Minh Thu

Source: VietNamNet

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