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date: 14 October 2019

Dong Son [Dongson.]locked

  • John Villiers



Site in northern Vietnam on the south bank of the Ma River in Thanh Hoa Province, first excavated by Pajot in 1924. There are traces of very early settlement, but the chief importance of this site and of several other related sites in the Red River delta lies in the large number of bronze objects, some of them dating from c. 600 bc, found in burial sites on the riverbank. These burials are simple ditches in which the dead were placed in a stretched-out position, in marked contrast to the contemporary Chinese brick-vaulted tombs found in Tonkin and Thanh Hoa. Besides bronze objects, the burials contain arms and other implements made of iron, as well as jade ornaments, polished stone axes and schist tools, indicating that a pre-Bronze Age culture also existed in the region. The bronzes include arms, body plaques, ploughshares and other agricultural implements, receptacles of various kinds and, most important, a number of the decorated kettledrums that are the best known and most characteristic products of the Dong Son culture, as well as objects of Chinese origin. The bronze is composed of 55% copper, 15–16% tin and 17–19% lead. The decoration consists of geometric motifs, birds and animals and human figues, including warriors in plumed headdresses in pirogues, and musicians....

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