History - Archaeological study
Only about 4,000 years ago, with the formation of the Red River delta and the appearance of bronze casting technique, people step by step moved to the deltas, valleys, rivers and streams for exploitation. Then they went on to live in Vinh Phuc, making a break with the stone era to enter the bronze era.
Archaeological data found in a few recent decades on the Red River basin outlined steps of developments of the people here before the dawn of national history. That was the period of Phung Nguyen culture – taking archaeological ruins in Phung Nguyen, Lam Thao district, Phu Tho as an typical example belonging to early period of brass, followed by the phase of Dong Dau culture - from the cultural layers between sites Dong Dau in Yen Lac, Vinh Phuc as typical, belonging to the development period of brass. And the stage of Go Mun culture ebony from sites Go Mun, in the district of Lam Thao, Phu Tho as typical of post-period of brass. The three overlapping developments were premise to form Dong Son culture, then commonly known as the pre Dong Son culture or pre Hung Vuong.
Like other parts of the midlands and the north plain, in the early second millennium BC, in various regions of the province of Vinh Phuc there were human in brass era coming for residence. With three stages of cultural development of the preparation process for the introduction of the nation’s first state: the State of Van Lang of the Hung Kings.
Phung Nguyen cultural period
Phung Nguyen cultural period started in about 4,000 years ago and lasted about 700 years. This is the most vibrant development stage in Vinh Phuc. Ruins discovered were not only abundant but many artifacts collected were also extremely rich and diverse. Let`s see the sites detected.
Sites of Go Dang and Go Soi both belong to Don Nhan commune, Lap Thach district, and about 200 meters apart, formerly called Don Nhan site. These sites have an area not large, only about 2,000 m 2, and are located on the lower slopes of hills. The two sites has not yet been excavated. The survey shows that cultural layer is relatively thin, only about 0.20 to 0.50 m and is mountain soils with lots of reddish-brown gravel rust. In the process of farming people often collected stone axes ground smoothly, piece of stone round, grater and revealed multiple pink thin pottery fragments. During the investigation in 2000 in Go Soi, people collected one rectangular axe blade ground smoothly with basalt stone, three pieces of drain graters and many coarse pottery pieces. In Go Dang, people collected three rectangular axe blades and lots of pieces of coarse pottery.
Go Hoi site in the village of Dong Xoi, Hai Luu Commune, Song Lo district is located in a farming field that is relatively high, about 300m from Lo river. The site has an area of only 2 hectares discovered in 2000 and has been excavated twice in 2002 and 2003 with an area of 267m 2. The cultural layer is relatively thin, only about 0.50m is dark yellow sandy clay with gravel rust. Notably, under the cultural layers there were many black land holes deep in the earth. Regardless collecting in investigations, the two excavations collected 413 stone artifacts, including the most amount of rectangular axes and graters, 87 original ceramic wares or can be restored with nearly 10 ten thousand pieces of coarse pottery.
Vinh Tuong district has sites Nghia Lap, Lung Hoa, Dong Huong.
The site of Nghia Lap is in the field of Nghia Lap hamlet, Nghia Hung commune and has an area of about 26.000m 2, located on high land strip called Go Chua, about 4 km from Lo river. The site has been investigated many times and twice excavated. The cultural layer is relatively thick, about 1.50 m but distributing unevenly, it is gray-brown or black - gray clay. Notably, under the cultural layer, there are square or rectangular black land holes about 1 meter deep, containing many stone objects, pottery pieces and charcoal. On the ground there are many large holes. Artifacts obtained are quite plentiful, including stone objects and ceramic pieces. Notably, pottery wares here have over 11% decorated with dot lines forming very nice symmetric schemes. The schemes engraved dot lines on pottery wares of Nghia Lap are the most beautiful ones, over pottery Phung Nguyen in Vinh Phuc. In surveys as well as excavations, people also collected some bronze objects in Dong Son culture as square heel axes, spears. These objects may be buried in graves or in the black land holes in Dong Son culture.
Lung Hoa site located on high ground growing vegetables in Hoa Loan village, about 2.5 km the Red River has an area of over 31,000 m 2. . The site was surveyed many times and excavated three seasons. The cultural layer is relatively thin, only about 0.30 - 0.40 m, is black gray sandy clay containing many pieces of crude pottery and stone artifacts ground smooth. In the bottom of the layer, there are some black holes of land near the circle about 1 meter deep, containing many pieces of relatively large pottery inside. Notably in the excavations in 1965 – 1966, people discovered three brick tombs in the north’s invasion time and two jar graves, one land tomb and 12 land tombs of large size in the direction of northwest - southeast, of which there are some tombs buried in the layer style, and some tombs still retain some bones that can be studied. Artifacts buried along are extremely rich, including axes, chisels, stone rings and jewelry, pots, bowls, vases. Some graves still buried pig teeth. Notably, stone and ceramic wares in the cultural layer, in the land filling over the tomb and burial objects are basically the same as the stone objects including quadrangular axes, chisels, jewelry rings, earrings, two chains, chain pipe, spears, graters; ceramic wares include pots, jars, base bowls, tubular bowls, plumb line, pottery fork, etc. .. This shows that the age of the tomb and cultural layer is at the same time or separated not long.
In addition, in Lung Hoa Commune, people also discovered the site of Go Mat and Go Dong Cu near each other in the village of Lung Ngoai and from the site of Lung Hoa about 800m. The cultural layer is very thin, only about 0.20 m in the site Go Mat and unclear in Go Dong Cu. Here crude pottery, smooth ceramics decorated with engraved lines, carved holes and sculpted stone quadrangular axes ground smoothly were discovered.
Archaeological site of Lung Hoa was both a residence site and a tomb of the residents in Phung Nguyen culture. This is the most important site first detected. This is the first time, people excavated the tomb with a unique structure, discovering a collection of burial objects with different quantities between the numbers of graves, and also the first time there is an intact collection of pottery wares in Phung Nguyen culture, including some unique kinds as square mouth, round bottom vase. This is a rare, precious and most complete resources to investigate life and social activities of residents in Phung Nguyen culture and pre Hung Vuong time.
Tho Tang Commune with Dong huong relic and Ma Ca relic shows the cultural layer here is relatively thin, about 0.50 m, only Ma Ca is a bit thicker, it is gray sandy clay. In Dong Huong, people have obtained some quadrangular stone axes and pieces of crude pottery. And in Ma Ca, people have collected 12 stone tools, including quadrangular axes, chisels, deep set graters, grooved graters. Pottery wares are extremely rich, with ceramic balls, pottery forks, and ceramic pieces like a heap. Predominantly pale pink coarse pottery, engraved dot lines forming nice symmetric schemes, including some S-shaped models running long into a tape as the pottery in Nghia Lap. Notably, in the northeast of the relic there is a tomb dug up, but it can be identified as a rectangular tomb, the tomb bottom has four ceramic pots placed next to each other face up with three fiber plumb-lines and a quadrangular stone axes. Tomb as well as stone objects, pottery wares here are quite similar to the tomb of Lung Hoa. Go duong relic in Bo Sao commune, under 1km from Lung Hoa relic. The cultural layer here is not clear, on the mound revealed some pieces of pale pink crude ceramics, materials and patterns are closer to pottery pieces discovered in Go Ma Ca.
Yen Lac has the sites of Dong Dau (low level), Go Chua Bien Son in Yen Lac town; Go Quan Doi, Go Ma Hon, Dong Cuong commune; Go Gai, Coc Lam hamlet, Binh Dinh commune and Dinh Xa, Nguyet Duc Commune.
Dong Dau relic is in Trung village, Yen Lac town (formerly belonging to Minh Tan commune). The relic is located on a mound higher than the surrounding field of about 15m, with an area of about 85,000 m 2.
Observing traces of the cultural layer, it can be determined the site of Dong Dau has an area of about 64.000m 2. The remains were detected quite early, in 1962. Excluding man investigation, so far it has passed 6 times of excavation with the total area of 752m 2.
Dong Dau is not only a large area relic but also a site with thick cultural layer and most diverse exhibits in our country.
The cultural layer here is over 3m thick, if including the depth of the black holes, some places are over 5 meters deep, is sandy clay with different colors and contains stone copper, bone and ceramic artifacts with quality and quantity differences between the layers. Archaeologists taking part in the excavation divided into three different layers of culture developing from the low layer to higher one in Dong Dau relic. Phung Nguyen cultural layer at the bottom is over 1 meter thick, with kitchens and black holes deep into the land, middle culture layer in the Dong Dau is about 1m thick, and the top layer is of Go Mun culture. That`s not to mention in Dong Dau cultural layer the discover of some tombs in Phung Nguyen culture buried with stone jewelry rings, ceramic pots and forks and tombs in Dong Son culture buried with axes and bronze spears.
Phung Nguyen cultural layer is gray-brown sandy clay containing many large coal ovens with a lot of burnt rice and animals bones such as buffalo, cow, domestic pig, forest pigs, deer, stag, muntjac etc inside ... and especially many right angle and vertical black holes with the same orientation cutting each other. In Phung Nguyen cultural layer as well as in many black soil holes, there are stone bone and pottery objects, but hardly see bronze objects. It can be said that Dong Dau is the site to detect nicest bone objects in our country. Pottery wares are extremely rich, mainly thin, crude pottery with pale pink coverage, decorated with smooth patterns, more typical with outlined dots forming symmetric schemes, but it is not as rich and beautiful as ceramic wares in Nghia Lap site.
On type, more prominent than all, it is jar pots with vertical mouth, thick mouth edge, deep body, circular bottom, high base, wide mouth, tubular vase, bell-mouthed and high base ceramic fork etc...
With the next three cultural layers and the Dong Son tombs appearing in the Dong Dau site, first we establish a cultural universal system in the time of building the nation on the Red River basin. So we can see the importance of Dong Dau site not only with Vinh Phuc but also extremely important for learning Vietnamese ethnic origin as well as the process of forming the first state of the nation.
Also in Yen Lac town, close to Dong Dau, there is Go Chua Bien Son relic. This is also a floating mound in the middle of the field, but smaller and much lower than Dong Dau mound. The cultural layer is located deep under the surface about 1 meter, 0.85 m thick distributed into 2 layers. The below layer is about 0.60m thick , gray black containing stone tools such as quadrangular axes, pieces of jewelry round, double face pushing table with parallel grooves and pieces of pottery like the type of Phung Nguyen culture. The upper layer is thinner, just about 0.25 m thick, gray-brown with many pieces of pottery, a small balance copper axe blade discovered in this layer.
In Dong Cuong commune, two cultural relics of Phung Nguyen culture including Go Ma Hon and Go Quan Doi were discovered.
Go Ma Hon is a high land mound in the middle of the field of Chi village. The cultural layer here is relatively thin, only about 0.20 - 0.40 m below the cultivation soil about 0.20 m thick. Here the investigation has gained some quadrilateral stone axes, small size, ground smoothly with many pieces of crude pottery for decoration, smooth patterns and engraved with dot lines, including some S-shaped models like pottery wares detected in Go Gai. As people discovered, the relic of Go Ma Han belongs to development stage of Phung Nguyen culture.
Go Quan Doi is not far from Go Ma Hon, also known as Go Dong Quan. Today around the mound is flooded fields, to the southwest of the mound is Dam Vac filled with water all year round. The cultural layer here has two layers: the upper layer contains many broken pottery in feudal time, the below layer is gray sandy clay that contains many pieces of crude pottery and stone axes. Only the preliminary investigation has gained three quadrilateral small stone axe blades ground smoothly, many pieces of pottery pieces and graters. Go Quan Doi has equivalent level with Go Gai of the development stage of Phung Nguyen culture.
Relic Go Gai is in Coc Lam village, Binh Dinh commune, about 3 km from Vinh Yen city, with an area of about 400m 2. The relic was excavated once with the area of 138.75 m 2. The cultural layer is distributed unevenly, thickness from 0.20 - 0.70m, is sandy clay, strongly split laterite, is gray black. The excavation obtained some pieces of pottery and stone objects. Notably here people just collected a shouldered axe blade and four graters with two parallel grooves in two opposite faces. Pottery wares, besides weaving plumb-line, ceramic balls, ceramic forks, there were nearly 15 thousand pieces of broken pottery collected. Here the number of fine ceramics is more rough pottery, mostly having red-gray colors, slightly mouldy and black gray. Decorations, in addition to fine patterns, there are many dot and line patterns forming two- symmetrical triangular hook scheme typical for ceramic of Phung Nguyen culture. Excavators classified Go Gai into the typical period of Phung Nguyen culture.
Thap Mieu relic is in Gao hamlet, Thap Mieu village, Phuc Yen Town. The relic is distributed on low mound, just higher than around about 8m, with an area of about 1,500 m 2, but as the people built houses, dug drains, the cultural layer was seriously disordered. The cultural layer is about 0.40 m, is black gray sandy clay, containing many pieces of thin crude pottery decorated with line engraved patterns. In the process of making houses, the people here picked up some smooth small size stone axes. The discoverers thought that the ceramics here were close to Nghia Lap ceramics so classified into Phung Nguyen culture.
In the village of Noi Phat, Tam Hop Commune, Binh Xuyen district, people discovered relic Go Nganh, also called Go Moi, Go Mieu, and Go Dau, surrounded by flooded fields. The relic is 200m 2 wide, the cultural layer is about 0.35 m thick, is clay with a lot of gravel rust. Through investigation, people collected 9 axe blades including 8 quadrangular ones, 7 graters, 4 T-shaped and semicircular pieces of round, with many pieces of rotten coarse pottery, smooth patterns and engraved with dot lines like the type of Phung Nguyen pottery.
In Dai Dinh commune, Tam Duong district, initially discovered relic Suoi Trai. The relic is distributed on a low mound, the cultural layer is not really clear. Through investigation, a number of small size quadrangular smooth stone axes and many pieces of rough pottery were found. The discoverers said that the relic possibly belonged to Phung Nguyen culture.
In addition, right near the boundaries of Vinh Phuc and formerly Kim Anh, Soc Son district now, Hanoi there is a relic of Nui Xay- a quite typical relic of Phung Nguyen culture. The relic is located in the southeast slope of two land hills about 20m high on the shore of Ca Lo River, only about 3km from Phuc Yen Town. The relic is 4,000 2 wide. Here excavated about 100m 2 , the cultural layer is about 1 meter thick, is gray and black porous gravel soil with much ash coal, which contains many stone and pottery artifacts. Artifacts obtained are fairly plentiful in number and type. In the area of 100m 2 , 351 stone objects were collected, including 107 axe blades, 176 graters, 11 chisels and 38 pieces of ring. Notably, here found 5 schists with double parallel grooves often called "sign Bac Son", this shows the origin of Phung Nguyen culture can be traced from the culture of Hoa Binh - Bac Son. Stone axes here mainly are quadrangular axes, but also three shouldered axe blades and three graded axe blades reflecting cultural exchange at that time between the midland plain with mountains to the west, northwest and the coastal Northeast. Here, over one ten thousand pieces of crude pottery were collected, including up to 17% dot line patterns and thick ceramic mouth that is specific to the pottery of Phung Nguyen culture.
So that we can find that in Phung Nguyen cultural period, man was present in almost all districts across the land of Vinh Phuc, discovering and exploiting mound hills near rivers, streams and fertile delta plains.
Dong Dau cultural period
Dong Dau cultural period is next to Phung Nguyen cultural period, dating about 3300-3000 years from today. The excavations of Dong Dau relic has provided documentation for archaeologists to establish the existence of Dong Dau period in the historical process of Pre Hung Vuong time on the Red River basin.
Like other provinces in the north midlands plain, on the land of Vinh Phuc, not many the relics of the period of Dong Dau cultural period were not found. Typically than all, it is the middle layer of relics Dong Dau, Dinh Xa and Thanh Den.
Relic Dong Dau (middle layer): The middle layer of Dong Dau cultural relic is about 1m thick, evenly distributed around the relics in the north and south, and is a pale gray sandy or foam blue gray, a lot of coal and ash inside. In this cultural layer, occasionally encountered some fine yellow clay bases, about 3 to 5 m broad and long, 10 to 20 cm thick, on which there are many deep holes deep below. Also in this layer, people discovered many strange animal bones, most bone and horn of deer, stag, muntjac, set of teeth of pig, buffaloes, cows and also fish bones, turtle shells, pincers of crab ... In a recent excavation, people discovered a length of very large elephant bone. This is also the cultural period discovering most artifacts in Dong Dau relic, including stone objects, horn and bone objects, ceramics and brassware. Compared with the exhibits in Phung Nguyen cultural layer below, the exhibits here are not only plentiful but also have own style.
Stone objects are still popular; bone artifacts such as arrows, spears, barbed javelins are plentiful in quantity equivalent or more than the ones in below Phung Nguyen cultural layer. Besides the types of hunting tools, bone jewelry appeared. Materials, patterns and styles of pottery are also different from previous periods. Pottery crude reduced, fine ceramics increased, heating temperature was higher, and pottery forks with thick wall, there are many large size containers. Dot outlined patterns that were typical for the previous period before were no longer, common patterns were staff ones with many teeth forming S-shaped wave scheme following one another, number 8 shaped, shape of plaited cord, weaving chicken coop ... the patterns are not only decorated on the body but also decorated the inside of the mouth. Ceramic forks are also different from before, lower base, semicircular decorative patterns, began to appear simple turtle ceramic base. Notably, in the layer, people discovered a number of terracotta statues of cows, chickens, designed simply but very lively. The cultural layer marks a leap in the technique of casting copper. If in the stage of Phung Nguyen culture, it was rare to see a little copper slag, then in this layer many bronze objects were found, also casting mold, cooking pot, copper ladle, small balance axes, rectangular axes, swallow wing arrows, spearhead, point and hooks. Especially people found some copper brushers. Stone, bone, ceramic wares and brassware in this layer has created specific style to the stage of Dong Dau culture.
Yen Lac district has relic Dinh Xa. This relic is of Nguyet Duc Commune, from Dong Dau relic around 2km to the east, near Ca Lo River. Here through the investigation people discovered at a depth of 1.50 m of a dug hole four quadrilateral axe blades in small size ground smoothly, four rectangular large stone rings, one D shaped large stone ring with several pieces of rough pottery, including some pieces decorated into staff patterns forming different schemes. Previously when newly discovered, the relic Dinh Xa was classified into Phung Nguyen culture, now when having more documentation on jewelry round and ceramics brushed with staff pattern, likely the relic Dinh Xa belongs to Dong Dau cultural period.
Notably in the cultural layer there are two tombs, the body is placed on the rectangle yellow clay, a single grave without burial objects, a double grave, between two bodies there is a stone axe and ceramic fork. The excavator classified the tomb into Dong Dau culture.
Artifacts obtained are plentiful. In the area of 143m 2 in all three seasons of excavation, people have gained 305 stone artifacts, 70 bronze objects, five bone artifacts, many pottery wares and over ten thousand pieces of pottery of all kinds. Stone objects focused many in deep layers, as over the lower. More than all there are small size quadrilateral axes, graters, then jewelry rounds, earrings, chain grain. Also 50 pieces of casting molds were collected, including casting molds of axe and barbed javelins. Bronze objects in lower layer are less, as much as up. Besides balance axes, points, arrowheads, fishing hooks, here there are approximately 866 bronze rusts collected.
Intact pottery is not much. More than all, there are 150 ceramic balls, then weaving plumb line. In addition, people detected two terra cotta molds and 32 pieces of bronze cooking pots and a number of terra-cotta cow statues. Thanh Den ceramic pieces are relatively fine, high heating temperature, hard ceramics, gray, decorated with staff patterns forming S-shaped scheme, wavy, plaited cord, etc... Notably in the bottom layer there are some pieces of pottery decorated with dot line patterns like the type of Phung Nguyen culture and in the upper layer there are also several pieces of pottery like the style of Go Mun pottery. So, the excavators classified Thanh Den relic into Dong Dau culture from early to late period.
So far, Thanh Den is the relic in which people discovered most bronze casting molds of the relics in metal era in the North Vietnam. With the number of 52 molds, many pieces of bronze cooking pots together with hundreds of bronze stags discovered, it can be confirmed Thanh Den was not only a residence relic but also a center of the critical bronze casting at that time.
So the middle layer of relic Dong Dau with Dinh Xa and Thanh Den created the cultural face of development stage of brass not only for Vinh Phuc, but also for the Red River basin. So far, in Dong Dau period, on the Red River basin, there has not been a relic that is as diverse and comprehensive as relics Dong Dau and Thanh Den.
Go Mun cultural period
The next stage of Dong Mun period is Go Mun period. Go Mun period is the height of Tien Dong Son culture, dating to about 3000-2700 from the present day. Typical for the period of Go Mun culture on the land of Vinh Phuc is upper layer of relics Dong Dau, Nui Ca and Thanh Vuon.
The upper layer of Dong Dau relic of Go Mun cultural period has unevenly thick thin cultural layer, in the center of the mound, cultural layer is relatively thick, about 1 meter, thin out gradually around. Cultural layer of Dong Dau is evenly distributed across the site; also cultural layer of Go Mun is not seen to appear in the south of the mound.
Artifacts collected in Go Mun cultural layer are quite plentiful. Stone exhibits are less than the two lower layers, mostly the types of quadrangular axes, chisels, graters, jewelry round, etc... However the number of jewelry round reduces clearly. Stone earrings are opposite. Earrings at this stage are a flat thin circle, with round hole and slits, nearly square trapezoidal cross-section. Also in this layer, many types of quite unique crow pillow shaped tubes also appeared.
Bone artifacts are still, but the numbers are few. Bronze objects in this layer are not really rich, but the quantity and type of culture compared to Dong Dau cultural layer have increased more, including the types of balance axes, chisels, points, spearhead, barbed javelin head, arrowhead, brushes... Bronze objects in the stage are not only advanced in casting technique but also have their own characteristics of style.
Pottery wares in the cultural layer have high heating temperature, gray hard thick ceramic. More typical is the broad mouth cupped curved pottery and horizontal broad ceramic, decorated with outlined patterns and stretching dots, square dots like thatch stem. In the early period, the mouth was relatively narrow, only about 2cm, the late period, the mouth was relatively large, some up to 5 - 6cm. Crude rope patterns are also used to decorate pot, jar. By this stage, jar bowl base is relatively low, only about 1 - 2cm simple scarf coronary, not decorated. Ceramic fork has a large number and common with turtle base.
Compared to site Go Mun in Phu Tho province that is selected as typical for this stage of culture, cultural layer of Go Mun here is equivalent with the early period there or earlier than a little, which means to belong to the early stage of Go Mun culture.
The relic Nui Ca is in Phuc Yen Town, Me Linh district. In the time of the French domination, the French built government palace Ca Mountain so the relic was seriously damaged. The relic was discovered quite early, from 1967, then the relic was just a strip of land about 20 - 25m long, the upper part was also dug to make anti-aircraft guns.
Observing the trench wall shows that the cultural layer here is about 0.30 to 0.40 m thick under the gravel soil. The cultural layer is porous black gray sandy clay, containing many pieces of crude pottery. The ceramics here are the pottery with horizontal cupped mouth, inside the mouth slightly concave, not decorated and the type of horizontal cupped mouth, the mouth edge is decorated carefully outlines and thatch stem patterns. With this type of pottery, the discoverers classified Nui Ca into the period of Go Mun culture.
In addition to the relics above, in many places in Vinh Phuc, in production process, digging trench, digging clay for baking brick, digging fortifications, the people usually discover stone tools such as axes, grinding tables, pestle etc... But archaeological officials and museum has had conditions to approach. Probably that`s the initial good signal leading to important archaeological discoveries.
In Dong Cham Hamlet, Yen Quang commune, Song Lo district people discovered a quite nice smooth basalt stone hoe blade. About design, it is like shouldered ax blades but larger size. The hoe is 11.50 cm long, the blade is 8cm wide, l.50cm thick; helve for setting handle is 2.8 cm long, 2.6 cm wide.
In Yen Lap Commune, Vinh Tuong people discovered two nice stone spade blades. The spade has long blade, short but wide helve. Two fifths above the blade is thick, 3 / 5 below the blade is thin gradually to blade edge. It is ground smoothly entire the body. This type of spade was discovered separately in a few places in both the North and the South Vietnam. The stone spades were not in the system of cultural development from Phung Nguyen culture to Go Mun culture on the Red River basin and were classified into the era of metal by most archaeologists.
Source : vinhphuc.gov.vn
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