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Ly Son-Sa Huynh preserves unique value of geo-park site

Vietnam is moving closer to getting another geo-park recognised by the UN cultural agency UNESCO.

Conference on Ly Son-Sa Huynh Geo-Park to take place in Quang Ngai
Ly Son-Sa Huynh geopark seeks for global status

Ly Son Island, off the coast of Quang Ngai Province preserves unique values of archaeology, culture, people and landscape of the ancient volcanoes. The central province, in co-operation with National UNESCO commission of Vietnam, has prepared documents for promoting Ly Son-Sa Huynh as a global geo-park site. VNS Photo Le Xuan Tho


Quang Ngai Province, in co-operation with National UNESCO commission of Vietnam, and archaeologists, scientists and researchers have been completing documents and field surveys to get the status conferred on Ly Son-Sa Huynh later this year.

The Director of the provincial department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Nguyen Minh Tri, said major works and preparations had been finished at a recent conference on the heritage value of Ly Son-Sa Huynh in Quang Ngai City.

“Preparation works including archaeological and geological surveys and evaluations as well as research on ancient cultures started in 2015. We are sure the document will be submitted to UNESCO by late November for approval as a global geo-park site,” Tri, who is also deputy head of the Ly Son-Sa Huynh geo-park management board, said.

“The Ly Son-Sa Huynh geo-park has been well preserved with its values of geology, culture and biodiversity on a vast land and sea area of 4, including 2, of sea area in nine districts and Quang Ngai City,” he said.


VOLCANIC: An overview of the Ly Son Islands, off the coast of Quang Ngai Province. The central province of Quang Ngai plans to apply for global Geo-Park recognition for Ly Son-Sa Huynh area later this year. VNS Photo Dinh Trung


Research has revealed the value of Ly Son Island and of the Sa Huynh culture as well as archaeological sites and relics.

Archaeologists and scientists have said that abundant relics related to the Sa Huynh, Champa and Dai Viet (or Great Viet) cultures that existed on Ly Son Island for thousands of years ago were mostly well-preserved, and ceramic fragments and other antiquities from archaeological excavations in the past revealed the first community living on the island belonged to the Sa Huynh culture between 2,500 and 3,000 years ago.

Bui Van Liem, from the Viet Nam Archaeology Institute, said vestiges of the Sa Huynh culture were found both in the mainland, sea and islands of the central and central highlands region, and Quang Ngai was a centre of the Sa Huynh culture.

He said many antiquities related to tombs of the Sa Huynh culture had been excavated by Western archaeologists and Vietnamese 110 years ago when the Sa Huynh culture was unveiled in 1909.

Liem said nearly 400 jar tombs were found in the area from 1923.

Dr Andreas Reinecke from the Commission for Archaeology of Non-European Culture of the German Archaeological Institute said he had been working in Southeast Asia since 1993, and most of his field work and excavations were carried out in central and south central Vietnam.

He said many double headed animal ear-rings belonged to a small group of highly symbolic artefacts of the prehistorical cultures in Southeast Asia which is especially characteristic of the Sa Huynh Culture.

“These ear ornaments were mostly found in the jar burials of the ancient periods of this culture with a date before 100 BC. They show the image of sao la – a critically endangered animal found in forests of Nghe An Province. These ear-rings were worn by shamans of the Sa Huynh culture,” Reinecke said.

“Dozens of specimens were found in burials outside Vietnam and indicate the migration route of Sa Huynh communities. The three-pointed stone or glass ear ornaments are more distributed also outside the Sa Huynh culture. However, they are also a typical ornament of the Sa Huynh culture,” he said.

Pham Thi Ninh, from the Viet Nam Association of Archaeology, said the existence of communities of the Sa Huynh culture related to the coastal area of Vietnam.


UNDERWATER LIFE: A diver checks the quality of coral reefs in the water off Ly Son Island of the central Quang Ngai Province. VNS Photo Doan Anh Duong


She said at least 2 million fragments of shells and ornaments – which were excavated from the Ly Son Island and mainland Quang Ngai – unveiled that communities of the Sa Huynh culture had lived in the area at least 10,000 years ago.

Doan Ngoc Khoi, deputy director of Quang Ngai Provincial Museum, said excavations since 2000 on the Ly Son Island unearthed axes, chisels, knives and hoes made from stone, bronze and it proved the community of the Sa Huynh culture had lived and existed on the islands a long time ago.

Dang Van Bai, a member of the National Heritage Council, said the province must strongly commit to protecting the area, and excavations should be preserved at the site following the suggestions of the UN cultural agency.

He said the province should establish a powerful agency to guard the heritage site.

Bai also warned that the province must balance economic growth and heritage conservation.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Hoai Chung said Ly Son-Sa Huynh geo-park was considered a priceless heritage of Vietnam.

Chung, chairman of the national UNESCO Commission of Vietnam, said he hoped that Ly Son-Sa Huynh would enter the global geo-park network after the country submitted documents to UNESCO for approval on November 30.

Provincial party secretary Le Viet Chu said the province would do what it could to protect the special site.

He said earning UNESCO recognition would require co-operation from different agencies, provinces and experts.

Last year, experts from the Viet Nam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources found a unique complex of fossilised coral believed to date from 4,000 to 6,000 years ago on Ly Son Island.

The Director of the Viet Nam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, Tran Tan Van, said the institute and the province of Quang Ngai would closely co-operate in promoting the archaeological value and culture as a global geo-park site.

Setsuya Nakada, heir of the Advisory Committee of the Global Geo-Park Network, said at least five volcanoes and potentially active volcanoes occurred in central and south Vietnam in the Neogene-Quaternary (about 30 million years ago).

Ly Son Island, known as the "Kingdom of Garlic" in Vietnam, has about 21,000 inhabitants, of whom 73 per cent make their living from farming garlic and spring onions, alongside fishing.



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