Lam Dong is an ancient land with diverse geological features. Lam Dong also has many ethnic groups which belong to two linguistic groups Mon - Kho Me and Malayo - Polynexia. These ethnic people come and settle in the south Highlands.
Lam Dong has an age-old history and culture. Ethnic people during their historical development have left many relics which contribute to the richness of Lam Dong’s culture.
The land of Lam Dong preserves many cultural and historical traces of many ethnic people. These are tools, utensils, decorations, jewelry, temples, tombs built through many ages. These are the remarkable evidence of the life of people and their development periods on this land.
There are abundant archeological relics in the area, but the excavation activities are quite limited. In recent years, from the accident encounters of residents, some excavation activities are being carried on. The relics already found show a rich cultural life of ancient times and a close relation between the area and its neighbors.
Similar to other regions of Highlands, the distinct historical feature of Lam Dong is that ethnic minorities start with their primitive life and then gradually integrate modern production methods from Viet people. Hence, the concepts of Dinh, Le, Ly, Tran regimes cannot be applied to explain the archeological relics found in Lam Dong.
The archeology in Lam Dong can be divided into two sections: pre-historic and historic relics.
I. Pre-Historic Relics
In Lam Dong, pre-historic relics are found in basalt mountain slopes or hill slopes along rivers and springs.
Stone tools of prehistoric men are found randomly in Di Linh, Lac Duong, Lam Ha, Don Duong, Da Huoai, Da The, and Cat Tien. During their cultivation activities, farmers often find stone axes or hammers which they call “lightning axe” or “sky hammer”. From this initial discovery, the archeologists start their search. The results of their excavation excite many researchers.
1. End of oldstone age
Until recently, the post-stone age is regarded as absent in the development process of Lam Dong. Many excavations reveal tools from new stone age and iron age, yet none is found from old stone age. Some relics which are believed to be in old stone age are found in Doan Van, DakR’Lap district (Dac Lac province) which borders with Cat Tien district (Lam Dong province). In the exaction of 1995, archeologists from the Center for Archeology of the Ho Chi Minh Institute of Science discover several tools made in the post-old-stone age. These are found in 3 different districts: Da Don (Lam Ha district), Giang Hill (BaoLoc district) and Lac Xuan (Don Duong district).
A cemetery of Ma people is found in the valley of village 6, Da Don commune. The excavation in this cemetery reveals 3 chopping tools, 1 scraping tool, and dozens other tools with different sizes. All these tools are made from stones with a sharpened end.
The shape of two of these tools is similar to that of a typical axe of Son Vi culture in the central coastlines and northern mountains.
The third tool has a size of 10cm x 6.5cm x 5cm.
The scraping tools are 6cm in length, 4.5 in width and 5.2 in thickness. They can be used to scrape or to cut. These are common tools often found in post-old-stone age.
Giang Hill in Dai Lao village, LocChau commune, BaoLoc district is basalt hill which is very fertile. Residents cultivate this hill for growing tea trees. Many ancient cemeteries of Ma people are found in this hill.
On the surface, 2 scraping tools are found. These tools are made from pebble stone with small cut to form a blade. One tool is 10cm in length, 5.2 in width while the other one is 7.3cm in length, 6.1cm in width and 1.6cm in thickness.
In a valley of Lac Xuan, Don Duong district, several stones are found with traces of being sharpened in one end. Their appearance shows tool-making activities of ancient residents.
The number of relics found is not abundant. This is reasonable because in the old stone age, people live in small groups with very less population.
On the other hand, the archeological search is not carried out broadly. Moreover, the knowledge of old stone age is very limited, even among researchers. Many researchers cannot distinguish tools made in old stone age from naturally broken pieces of stones
Hence, the discovery of old-stone-age tools in 3 spots in Lam Dong is very significant. In the Highlands, this is the first discovery of tools from old stone age. Thanks to this discovery, it can be said that humans start to live in Lam Dong thousands years ago. These ancient men use stone tools to chop trees, cultivate the fertile soil of basalt land. This discovery is related to that in Doan Van (Dac Lac province), Gia Tan-XuanLoc (Dong Nai province), TanUyen (Binh Duong province) and even in Strung Trengriver(northeast Cambodia).
Tools found in XuanLoc and Gia Tan are made from pebble stones and belong to the old stone age. The technique used to make these tools is similar to that used in making Lam Dong tools. This needs to be further researched.
The appearance of axe shows a close connection of local culture with Son Vi culture. Although only a few tools and relics are found, this is a good sign for the development of archeology and further excavation in Lam Dong.
2. End of new stone age, beginning of bronze age
There has been no discovery of relics or tools in new stone age in Lam Dong. However, with the discovery in Lam Ha, BaoLoc and Don Duong, it is expected that relics from new stone age will soon be discovered in Lam Dong. This requires efforts and time
At the end of the new stone age, beginning of the bronze age, ancient men have settled in many areas in Lam Dong. Evidence of their life is the stone tools such as axe, chisel, and stone jewelry. Tools are found in Di Linh, Don Duong, jewelry is found in Dronto.
So far, there is no excavation looking for tools from new stone age or bronze age in Lam Dong. In the following sections, we will brief on some spots where there has been discovery of new stone age and bronze age relics.
During cultivation process in some hills of Nam Ninh commune (Cat Tien district), farmers discover 3 stone hoc blades in one spot.
According to residents’ stories, these blades lie within a grey layer of soil, 20cm in depth, surrounded by nothing else. These blades have beautiful shape. The biggest one is smoothly sharpened, made from a dark-colored stone, and is 19 in length. Its handle is 3cm in length, 2.7cm in width. Its blade is 10cm in width.
The smallest blade is 10cm in total length made from a light gray stone. Its handle is 3.2 in length, 1.7cm in width. Its blade is 6.8cm in length and 5cm in width.
The third one is medium-sized with a round shape. Its total length is 13.5cm. Its handle is 4cm in length, 2cm in width with a broken piece.
These blades have a sharpened end with a curved shape. This is the most beautiful collection of stone tools ever discovered in the Highlands.
Apart from Nam Ninh, in the low hills along rivers of Dong Nairiver in Cat Tien, farmers discover many stone axes and sharpening stands. In 1984 in the mountainous areas of Phu My commune, farmers discover a stone axe and a marble sharpening stand. In 1985 in Duc Pho, a stone chisel and marble sharpening stand are discovered.
Along Dong Nairiver, there is evidence of civil development at the end of the new stone age, and in transition to the beginning of the bronze age.
In Pro commune (Don Duong district), during their cultivation process, farmers discover some stone axes, stone chisels and stone jewelry. The 2 stone axes are rectangular, and smoothly sharpened. The bigger axe has both ends sharpened. This may be the two-ended axe which is quite rare. This axe is 10cm in length, 3.2 in width and 1.3 in thickness. The second axe has a broken handle, with a very thick blade.
The chisel is a pointed one with balanced structure, long handle and sharpened blade. The chisel is 10.1cm in length. Its handle is 3.4cm in length, 1.6cm in width. Its blade is 5cm in width, 6.5cm in length.
The two rectangular chisels are rather long, with blades bigger than handles. The bigger chisel is 13.6cm in length, its handle is 2.7cm in width, its blade is 5.2cm in width and 1.5cm in thickness. The smaller one has a broke blade, and its 10.5cm in length. Its handle is 2.9cm in width, and its blade is 4.6cm in width and 1.6cm in thickness.
There is also a discovery of a broken stone bracelet. The bracelet is made from a green stone. Its thickness is 0.4cm, and its width is 3.5cm.
The second bracelet is an uncompleted piece of work. The method of making this bracelet is different from the common method used in the new stone age or bronze age. The bracelet has a round shape, with unsharpened figure. The outer diameter is 6.5cm, and the inner diameter is 1.5cm.
Stone jewelry is popular archeological relics found at the end of new stone age and beginning of bronze age not only in our country, but in others as well. The appearance of these stone bracelets, stone axes and stone chisels shows the high development oflocal ethnic people, as well as their sense of arts.
Besides Pro, farmers in Don Duong also find other 2 stone axes in 1986. This shows that Don Dong used to be a populous residential area at the end of old stone age and the beginning of bronze age.
During their cultivation process in the hills around Tan Ha village, LocTien commune, BaoLoc town, farmers discover 4 stone axes and 2 stone bracelets. These 4 axes are rectangular ones with curved and smoothly sharpened blades.
The biggest axe is made from dark grey stone, and is 11.8cm in length. Its blade is 4.5cm in width, and 1.2cm in thickness. The second axe has a similar shape and material like the first one, yet it retains several traces of being sharpened. It is 11.5cm in length. Its blade is 4.3cm in width and 1.5cm in thickness. The third axe is relatively similar to the other two, however its handle is broken. Its remaining length is 6.7cm. Its blade is 5cm in width, and 1.6 in thickness. The last axe is smaller, made from silica, with a broken blade. Its length is 6.4cm, its blade is 4cm in width. The axe’s figure is slightly curved. This is a very beautiful collection of stone axes, reflecting the ancient resident’s tool-making capability.
Besides axes, several stone jewelry are also discovered. Two pieces of stone jewelry are made using the most developed method in the primitive age. Bracelets are made from hard, dark-colored stones, with smoothly sharpened edge.The bigger bracelet has an outer diameter of 15cm, inner diameter of 7cm and is 0.7cm in thickness. The smaller one has an outer diameter of 10cm, inner diameter of 5cm, and is 1.4cm in thickness.
The appearance of stone jewelry shows a high aesthetic life and subtle tool-making method developed by ancient residents.
In PhucTho village, Tan Ha Commune, Lam Ha district, during their digging for growing coffee trees, farmers discover a rather special axe. The axe is made from silica stone, and has a rectangular shape. The axe is smoothly sharpened, and still has some traces of sharpening process. The axe is 8.5cm in length, its tips is 2cm in width, its blade is 4cm in width and 1.7cm in thickness. Its material, shape and sharpening technique are quite similar to those of the axe of the buffalo-tooth shape which is common in Bien Ho culture in the Highlands, BauTro culture and pre-Sa Huynh culture in the central coastal areas.
In PhucTho, a range of valleys is formed by along the basalt red-soil hills. Small springs often run through these valleys. This makes this area convenient for residents. So far, there are no archeological relics found in this area. However, the appearance of the axe of the buffalo-tooth shape sheds some light on the hope that this area may be an important archeological site of Lam Dong.
There are not many discoveries of relics at the end of stone age, beginning of bronze age in Lam Dong, neither the traces of ancient residents. However, the appearance of stone axes, chisels and stone jewelry in Lac Duong, Di Linh, Lam Ha, Don Duong, Cat Tien, DaTeh shows that there are humans there in around 3.500 or 4.000 years ago.
It should be added that all discoveries mentioned above are made accidentally by farmers during their cultivation process or house building process. There has been little contribution from archeological activities. In the future, when there are more archeological activities, more relics are hoped to be found. The discoveries which are already found shows the close relationship between Lam Dong culture and neighboring areas.
Relics in the end of stone age and beginning of bronze age are found in many areas in Lam Dong, but mostly concentrated on the high hills along Dong Nai river, Lam Ha, Cat Tien, Da Huoai, and on valleys with springs in the middle in Di Linh, BaoLoc and Don Duong.
Another remarkable feature of relics in Lam Dong is that it is difficult to identify cultural features. This is also common for other cultures in Highlands. Axes, chisels are found in many areas, yet the residential traces of human are not widely found. There are a wide variety of axes and chisels found in Lam Dong. The main discovery is axes with short handle and broad blade, or rectangular axes.
Here in PhucTho village (Lam Ha), there is discovery of buffalo-tooth axe, though not much in quantity. This axe is a typical relic of Bien Ho culture in north Highlands. One prominent feature of Bien Ho culture is modernizing stone axe (sharpen the blade to continue use), yet this is not showed in stone collection in Lam Dong.
In the stone collection of Lam Dong Museum, there are 2 stone figures which are believed to be pattern-making tools. This pattern-making tool is also discovered in DakR’Lap and Dak Ton, DakNong (Dac Lac province). There may be cultural exchange among residents of the two areas.
Observation of shape and technique for making these axes and chisels, it can be seen that there is a close relationship with southeast area. These axes, chisels with broad blades, and rectangular chisels are similar to those found in bronze age in Dong Nai and Binh Duong.
Hence, it can be seen a close relationship between Lam Dong culture and southeast area culture in the end of stone age and beginning of bronze age.
3. Development of relics in bronze age
Earlier, there is no discovery of relics in bronze age in Lam Dong such as bronze axes, chisels. In 1996, a residential relic is found in Dong Nairiver, Phu My commune, Cat Tien district.
In May 1996, in Phu My commune, residents while digging for building houses found some rough pieces of porcelain. They report to Lam Dong Museum.
In December 1996, staff at the Archeology Institute and staff at Lam Dong Museum conduct experimental activities. The experimental area is small, only 4m2, yet with their discovery it can be seen that this area is an important landmarks showing the development of relics in bronze age, firstly known in Lam Dong, as well as in the Highlands.
Relics are found next to the main road to Madagui, on the left bank of Dong Nairiver, 30m from the river and 6m higher than the river water level.
This is a rather big archeological site, its area may reach up to 5,000m2. The whole area is buried deep underground. Through the experimental digging hole, it can be seen that the cultural layer appear at 0.9m depth. Above this layer are the fertile layer for farming, abour 0.25m depth and a thick layer of yellow clay. There are no archeological relics in these two layers. The cultural layer is about 0.4m depth and is a mixture of clay and soft soils, which contain pieces of broken porcelains and stone. This is the trace of ancient life.
Below this culture layer is smooth and yellow clay which has some traces of pebbles. This archeological site only contains one layer, well preserved but difficult to be found.
The discovery of Phu My archeological site is thanks to good luck, yet it somehow shows the archeological knowledge among normal residents. The cultural layer in the site is not thick, yet it contains many relics, mostly porcelains.
Within the 4m2 area of experimental digging, there are 3 stone frames, 7 porcelain tables, and 1,288 pieces of broken porcelains. The concentration level of relics is high, as compared to archeological sites in lowlands.
Porcelain relics are made from raw pottery mixed with sand, with a thin cover. Due to being buried for a long time, their covers are peeled off. There are two types of porcelains, thick and thin. Most of relics found are black porcelains, with gray cover. There are only a few red porcelains.
Most of porcelains have no decorations, only a few have think patterns around the neck. Porcelains are made by rotating methods, with equal thickness, the burning temperature is low which makes them easy to be broken.
Among the found relics, some are believed to be pot covers, some are believed to be the mouth of bowls.
It should be noted that porcelain rotating tables are found here. These tables have a mushroom shape, with a round figure. Their handles are thick, some are hollow. Their length varies from 8 to 10m, with diameter of 6.5 to 7.8cm. This may be a tool for making porcelains.
There are 4 porcelain knobs with a cylinder shape. These may be the knob of some covers or the legs of some pots.
Although being broken, these pieces are important relics. The most important discovery is 3 frames. These are made from soft sand, similar to those found in Dong Dau (VinhPhuc province), Doc Chinh (Binh Duong province).
However, the frame is broken into many small pieces and is difficult to identify. Closely observed, the frame has a hollow part which may be a frame for sharpening axe, and a long blade which may be for sharpening pointed blade. Although a frame is found, no bronze tools made by this frame are found. This may due to the small area being experimented. It is hoped that future excavation will bring more discoveries.
About relics, the most remarkable ones are porcelains made by rotating table, baked with low temperature, without decoration or with very simple pattern. Stone axes, which are common relics found in beginning of bronze age, are rarely found here. Here finds no baked clay frame either. The frames found here are similar to those found in southern provinces such as Doc Chua (Binh Duong), Suoi Chon, Cai Bang, Cai Van, Binh Da, Long Buu, DoiTrangQuan (Dong Nai), Cao Su (Long An), and some northern areas like Dong Dau, Thanh Den (VinhPhuc).
The mushroom-shaped rotating table is discovered the first time in Lam Dong, yet similar tools are found in Cai Lang, Linh Spring, DoiTrangQuan (Dong Nai province).
These characteristics show close relationship between Phu My culture and other cultures in southeast area, especially in Dong Nai and Binh Duong.
In PhuMy, it is rarely seen stone axes, patterns on porcelains. Although no bronze tools are found, the appearance of frames can help us to categorize Phu My into the development period of bronze age.
Regarding the exact age, this can be identified by radio-active method C14like in Cai Van, Cai Lang, Bung Bac, Doc Chua. By this method, it is possible to scientifically identify the age of these relics which is from 2,400 to 3,000 years old. It should be noted that stone axes are found in archeological sitesnamed above, yet not found in Phu My. This may due to the small area of experimental excavation, or may to the fact that stone axes are no longer used at that time.
Based on the current information, many agree that a date of 2,000 to 2,500 years can be applied for Phu My.
Phu My archeological site is an important site, not only in Lam Dong but also in the Highlands. The ancient residents in PhuMy have a close connection with southeast area, and are prepared to step into a new age.
II. Archeological Relics Throughout Historical Periods
In Lam Dong, as well as other Highlands provinces, there are not many archeological relics found or researched. However, recently in Lam Dong there are many historical relics which attract attention and research. Results from archeological sites and research contribute to process of re-telling history of the south Highlands area.
Archeological sites in Lam Dong are diverse and scattered in many areas. They have a continual time feature. Archeological sites which are excavated are mostly religious constructions and tombs, concentrating around Da Dang river.
For the convenience of tracking the area’s history, the following information is presented according to type and time period.
1. Cat Tien archeological site:
Cat Tien archeological site is the name of a small groups of ruined constructions in Cat Tien district. The archeological traces are scattered along 15km north of Dong Nai River, but concentrated mostly in Quang Ngai and Duc Pho communes, and two flat valleys in Cat Tien district.
Archeological sites in Duc Pho commune are concentrated on a flat valley near Dong Nairiver. In the middle of the valley lies a mound of 1.5m high, and 7 - 8m in diameter. Pieces of bricks are scattered around the valley. In 1986, with 19 experimental diggings of 2,000m2, traces of a mound with brick wall are found. Surrounding this central mound, there are small mounds about 3 or 4m high, making a groups of ruined constructions.
In 1985, more excavations are done in the central mound. Here found a set of linga and yonyof a large size, with many pieces of porcelains.
The ruined constructions in Quang Ngai commune are concentrated on a small valley, bordering with Monkey hill on the east, Da Mai hill on the west, Dong Nairiver on the south and mountain range on the north. The main axis of this archeological site is east-west, along Dong Nairiver.
Together with these sites, archeological sites in QuangNgai are known sice 1986. These sites are excavated by the residents who take all relics away. Mounds number I, II, IV, V and VII are dug up in a mess. In mound number VII, local authorities find 11 relics including Klong container, candle holders, plates, pots with beautiful decoration.
In 1994, 1995 and 1996, archeological sites in QuangNgai commune are excavated for further research to identify their age and owner. Results from these excavations provide important information for the making of history of south Highlands.
Mound number I is the first ruined construction, located on the east of the QuangNgai site. The ruined construction on the hilltop is 50m high, making the hill named Money hill. The ruined construction is filled with broken bricks and stones. According to research, this is the largest and most beautiful archeological site with the best location within QuangNgai site.
The excavation reveals part of the broken tower. The tower structure can be imagined as follows:
The tower has a square base (12m x 12m). The base is 1.4m high. The joint between base and tower wall has round bricks with shape like flower petal. The remaining tower wall is 1.5m high, 2.2m thick, built with bricks. The tower gate faces east, the door vault is 5.3m long, 3.7m wide. In front of the tower is a big front yard, paved by stone. The tower gate is 1.45m wide. A yard surrounds the tower.
The inside of the tower is square, with an area of 40m2 (6.4m x 6.4m). Located in the middle of the tower is linga-yony. The yony base is big, square in shape (2.25m each side), 0.24m thick. Three supporting brick bases are built around yony, to support linga and to serve as place for offerings during rituals. The linga is 2.1m long, divided into 3 equal parts. The lowest part is square, representing God Brahma, the middle part is hexagon, representing God Visnu, and the highest part is round, representing God Shiva. In the middle of the tower lies a square brick column, 1.25m x 1.25m, forming the base for yony.
There are many relics found here, of different materials and diverse in shapes.
Among stone relics, a statue of God Ganesha is found, some pieces of white crystal stones, a white stone linga 5.5cm long and 1.5cm in diameter.
There are 6 iron relics, including spears, nails, nail base. There are 2 bronze relics, including plate with bell shape. There are 2 items thinly sharpened, made from silver. There are 904 pieces of broken porcelains from pots, cups, candle holders, vases. The typical features of porcelains are they have light yellow color, and are baked in low temperature.
Especially, there are 166 items made from a gold-color metal. Among these 166 items, there are 25 pieces of decorations with dancer images in the Hindu religion and history, including gods riding on elephants, cows. Five other items have image of Naudin, 1 item has turtle image, 7 images with lotus decoration, 4 items of snails decoration, the remaining items do not have decoration. Besides, there are 5 small linga.
Among 166 items, there are 37 pieces of scripts of Sanskrit characters, dated from the 10th or 11th century.
Based on the tower architecture, carved images on Ganesha statue, Sanskrit scripts and characteristics of porcelains, it is possible to identify the age of this tower which is built at the end of the 10th century, or beginning of the 11th century.
Mound number II is a large ruin with collapsed constructions, located about 300km away from mound number I. Similar to other sites, mound II is badly dug. The excavation chooses spot IIa which is least damaged.
Results show that spot IIa is a ruined tower. The tower has a rectangular base (7.7m x 7.5m). The base is 1.6m high. The tower gate faces east, other 3 sides are fake doors. The main gate into the tower has 5 steps, and is 1.6m taller than the ground. A brick-paved yard surrounds the tower. The outer circle is a wall surrounding the yard. The tower gate is 0.9m wide. Located in the middle of the tower is a yony base.
The remaining tower wall is 0.9 - 1.2m tall. Each wall has a system of columns for supporting and for decorating. The wall has lotus petal decoration. Generally observed, the tower body seems to grow from a large lotus.
In the middle of tower floor lies a Ganesha statue, made from green gray stone, and a set of linga-yony made from white stone.
The tower structure shows that the inside is paved with large piece of stone, the floor is paved with bricks and is 1.6m thick. In the middle of the tower, towards the west, lies a brick column. The column is 1.2m, 0.85m x 0.85m. Relics found here are diverse and abundant.
Apart from the keystones, the excavation also finds stone sculptures which are very remarkable. A shutter in the gate is decorated with 5 lotuses. Below is the image of a river, flowing smoothly. The sculpture technique is subtle.
The excavation in spot IIa also reveals pieces broken from Ganesa statue and Apsara statue. The sculpture technique is rather subtle.
109 pieces of gold-color metal are found inside the tower. These items are flattened into thin leaves, the biggest one is 9.5cm long, 1cm wide. Most of them are small, 2.2cm x 1cm. Carved on these items are images of gods and lords, animals. There are 54 items carved with god images, among them 5 are bigger than others. The images of gods are gods in Hindu. 2 items have elephant images, 1 with Naudin cow, 1 with horse image, 2 with Ganesa images, 2 with hippos.
There are 6 pieces of stones found which have no sharp figures. They are made from stone of different colors, dark green, light yellow, white. A set of ling-yony is made from sand stone, size 2.5cm x 2.5cm, and 1.5cm tall.
Through research, the relics found in IIa can be identified as from the end of 19th century.
Spot IV is a single ruin. Compared to other sites, this spot is badly dug for relics. The remains show that this used to be a large construction, about 3.5 or 4m higher than the ground. In front of the site, on the east is a big lake with brick wall. Results from the excavation allows us to re-create the architecture of the ruin:
The ruin is a tower and temple with beautiful design. Different from other construction, the main building material of this ruin is bricks which have decoration. Stones are only used in important spots that need more strength. In front of the ruin is a large brick-paved yard.
The tower has a square base, with an area of 10m2 (3.1m x 3.1m). the tower gate faces east, 0.9m in width. The remaining wall is 0.8 -0.9m tall. The gate vault is decorated with patterns, flowers and leaves, creating an elegant beauty.
Despite being badly damaged, a yony base is found inside the tower. It is made from gray stone, square in shape. The size of this yony base is 0.74m x 0.74m. In the middle is a hole for linga.
The most important relic in a Hindu temple is a linga which is also found here. This linga is made from crystal stone (SiO2). It is 0.25m tall, and 0.28 in diameter. According to Da Lat Institute of Nuclear, this linga is 3.435kg in weight.
Spot V is a separate construction, small in scale. It is 4 or 5m higher than the surrounding area. It is located in a middle of a bushy area. Spot V is also badly dug and damaged. The excavation reveals its architecture. The construction is square, with each side is 6m long. The construction is 6.2m tall. The top has a square shape, 1.2m tall. On the top, there is a square floor with a set of linga-yony.
Inside the tower is full of bricks, stones and yellow sand. In the middle is a brick column. Due to may diggings, relics found here are not much. The most remarkable relic found in spot V is a bronze plate, made from gray thick bronze.
The set of linga-yony is made from whole-piece stone, gray and dark in color, smoothly sharpened. The yony is rectangular (1.39m x 1.29m), has a hole in the middle to be attached with linga.
Linga is bigger, 1.15m long, and is divided into 3 parts: square part represent Brahma, hexagon part represent Visnu, and round part represent Shiva.
The full set is put on the top of spot V construction.
Based on the architecture, the set of linga-yony found, it can be identified that the construction dated from 19th or 20th century.
Apart from these sites, there are many other sites which need further excavation in QuangNgai such as spot II (b, c, d), III, IV (under the control of forest guards), VII (Dinh hill). These sites are connected to form a bigger archeological site. Remains of brick walls along Dong Nairiver may be traces of ancient river quays. Connecting these sites are roads of 0.8m or 1m wide. The transport system connecting these sites show that this may be an enclosed religious Hindu side, similar to those built in the Indo-China area. Hence, the archeological site of Cat Tien can be called Cat Tien, the holy land.
The holy land of Cat Tien has many religious constructions. However, the identification of these constructions’ age is only done by excavation. It is roughly estimated that the constructions in these sites are built from 11th to 19th century.
Relics found in Cat Tien, especially Ganesa stone statues, are similar to those found in southeast area within the same time period.
More than 200 pieces of gold metal, among them more than 100 pieces are decoration, 37 items of scripts, show the age of these sites are from 11th to 19th century.
The religious features are shown in the temples, tower, stature, set of linga-yony, Ganesa statue, god images carved in metal leaves: monks, God Shiva, Indra, Visnu, Brahma, dancers, apsara, the holy animals like elephants, horse, Naudin cow, Hamsa goose, and so on.
The Hindu feature is shown in 2 types of architecture: temples where gods are worshipped. The connection of 3 gods: Shiva - Visnu - Brahma, the east-facing gate, the long vault, the big tower are feature reflecting Hindu religion. Besides the temples are tombs, in which there may hold cremated corpses.
The connection of temples and tombs show the multi-feature of this holy land, not only in its architecture but also in its religion.
Historically, the land between southeast lowlands and south highlands is the residential area of Ma and Xtieng ethnic people. Due to the location and the influent of OcEo culture, Cat Tien archeological site may belong to OcEo culture. When OcEo culture dies away, the area is maintained and developed as an independent sub-nation, historically called Ma-Xtieng nation. If the historical information is correct, then Cat Tien is the holy land of this sub-nation Ma-Xtieng.
2. Ancient cemetery of Dai Lang
Ancient cemetery of Dai Lang is located on a high area long Da Brlan spring, the start of Dong Nairiver, in LocTien commune (BaoLoc town), 7km away from the town on the east.
The total area is 2,000km2with many hills, and 9 or 10 tall hills of 10 to 15m height. In 1981, when flattening a hill, farmers and local residents find some relics inside the hills, including some porcelains (pots, vases, bowls, plates), iron tools (knife, sword) and bronze jewelry (bracelet).
In the same year, the first excavation starts here. A digging of 9m2 in the east the hill reveals many relics. These include porcelains, irons, bronze items with different sizes and shapes. These show that this is an ancient cemetery, rather new, with characteristics like cemetery of ethnic minorities. This can be an important archeological site, further and in-depth excavations are carried on in this area in 1983. The total excavation area is 217m2 (marked from G2 to G5). The mounds have an average diameter of 6-12m, located 10-12m away from each other, 1.5-2.5m taller than the ground. Despite being badly dug and damaged,the excavation results show that the earth layer of these mounds is similar. The top layer is 0.2m of gray soil filled with tree roots, the following layer is fertile with light gray color 0.3-1.5m depth. The third layer is 1.5-2m thick, this may be the primitive layer. The last layer is 2 - 2.5m thick is hard stone.
Excavation shows that there may be one tomb in each mound (G4) or 2 tombs in each mound (G2). The relics found in 1 - 2.5m depth. A spot concentrated with items can help to identify the location of tomb.in spot number 8, there is a rectangular tomb 3.4m long, 1.2m wide, buried 2.95m away from the mound top.
In spot number 13, a rectangular tomb is found, 2.5m long and 1.4m wide. In some mounds (G4), relics are scattered. The distribution of items around the tomb is similar. The big items are on the outer circle, which include pots, vases with broken base. Smaller items like bowls, plates, cups, iron tools, bronze jewelry are placed in the middle. Especially, inside the tomb there found raw porcelains: pots, bowls which are buried deep under the tomb.
Relics found can be categorized into age groups or material groups.
Number of raw porcelains is less. Mostly found are round-base pots, with open mouth, 15 to 20cm tall, baked in low temperature, decorated with cross patterns.
Porcelains and pottery are important collection which is abundant with thousands of items found. Porcelains are bigger items like pots, vases. They have thick cover, gray in color. Items are used for decoration. Potteries are smaller items like bowls, cups, etc.
Thailand porcelains are bowls or plats with light color and simple decoration.
Vietnam porcelains are small in size, ivory color, made in the Ly-Tran period.
Champa porcelains are diverse in types: big bowls, small bowls with gray color, simple decoration, or small pots with dark color.
Chinese porcelains account for a large number. Typical items are bowls, plates with white color, decoration of flowers. Some items have decoration as like Chinese stories: fairy cross the sea, man rowing a boar, etc., or with images of dragons and phoenix, horses. These are dated from Minh - Thanh regime, 16th - 17th century.
Inside these tombs, found many iron tools: axes, knives, weapons like spears, armours, jewelry like bracelets, rings with hundred in number. Bracelets are round in shape. In some tombs, bronze bowls, bronze mirror are found. It is remarkable that 10 pieces of coin money are found. In one piece, it is read “thanhnguyen”. Many small crystal pieces are also found scattering inside the tombs. These crystal pieces are used to make bracelet or necklace.
Corpses inside the tombs are decayed, which makes it hard to identify the owners of these tombs or their ethnic.
Based on the tomb structure, method of burying, items found inside, it can be said that owners of these tombs are people living in mountainous areas. They may be Ma or Co ho who still preserve their tradition and rituals.
Based on the information, porcelains and other findings, it can be said that these tombs are dated from 17th - 18th century.
3. Dai Lao cemetery
Dai Lao cemetery is located on a low hill in Dai Lao village, LocChau commune, BaoLoc Town. The hill is named Giang or Ma (ghost) because this is the burying place of many ethnic people. Together with other cemeteries, Dai Lao starts to be excavated in 1993.
Before the excavation, the area is cultivated for tree farming. The small mounds are said to contain tombs inside the ground.
The excavation is done with 3 diggings, 6 tombs are found. Hole 1 (digging 1) has an area of 26m2, on the top of Giang hill. In the depth of 0.6m, relics are found. The grave has a direction of northeast - southwest, rectangular in shape, 2.3m long and 1.2 to1.5m wide. There are many layers of relics inside the grave. Porcelains are placed along the grave direction. Iron, bronze items and small porcelains are lied near the border. Jewelry is put near the central of the grave.
In the depth of 1.78m, there found a lot of raw porcelains, no pottery. Iron and bronze items are rare.
The hole II has an excavation area of 23m2, rectangular, lie on the direction of east-west. In the depth of 0.35m, relics are found. Porcelains include: bowls, plats, vases, pots originated from many places like Vietnam, China, Cham Pa. These are distributed along the grave border. Jewelry, iron tools and weapons are scattered inside.
In the depth of 1.1m, funeral relics are found. The lower grave is similar to the upper grave, but its direction is slightly changed into northeast - southwest. The layer of relics if 0.4 - 0.6m thick, mostly containing Cham Pa porcelains, local baked items, bronze jewelry, beads.
In the depth of 1.8m, relics are found intact. The grave direction is north-south. Porcelains are mainly plates, bowls, small plates, pottery pots, baked items, bronze jewelry, bracelet, rings, glass beads. These are mostly Cham Pa porcelains, or local. There is only a few jewelry, iron tools are rare.
In 3 layers of grave found in hole II, it can be seen that 3 graves are made in 3 different time periods. Relics found in each layer are different in age, reflecting different historical periods. The difference is shown in the change in grave direction, relics buried. The upper layer shows the extended relationship of this area because of the appearance of Viet porcelains and Chinese porcelains. The lower layer shows the enclosed relationship because of the appearance of Cham Pa porcelains and local baked clay items.
Hole III (digging III) has the excavation area of 12m2, in the middle of the hilltop. The soil layer is hard, red in color, 0.3m deep, the lower layer of soil is spongy. In the depth of 0.6m, many relics are found. The arrangement of these relics is not fixed, instead they are mixed with other stuffs in the deep layer of 0.6 - 0.8m thick. Relics include porcelains, iron tools, jewelry.
Relics found in Dai Lao ancient cemetery are abundant in number, diverse in types, made from many materials. Each grave has a different group of relics with different features, reflecting the historical characteristics of each grave and its owner and social status.
In grave I, 496 relics are found. Among which, 408 are porcelains, potteries, mostly broken pieces of pots, bowls. About 40 items are well-preserved. 21 bronze relics are found, including bracelets, gloves. The number of iron tools found is 29 including axes, spears, knives, etc. Many crystal beads are also found: 38 beads with in big size (0.3 - 0.5cm) with different colors like green, red, violet, yellow, black.
Grave II has 519 relics. 319 relics are porcelains and potteries, among which 45 relics are well-preserved, 274 are broken pieces from pots, bowls, plates, scales. The number of bronze relics is 45 including gloves, bracelets, money coins. Iron items include 28 relics like knives, axes, spears. 127 crystal beads are found, vary in size and color like green, blue, pink, while, yellow, black, brown.
Grave III has 697 relics. 325 relics are porcelains, among which 34 are well-preserved including pots, vases, bowls, cups. Among 291 broken pieces, 61 pieces are black and white in color, and are originated from China. The remaining are from Cham Pa, and baked clay items. Bronze relics include 29 gongs, 28 broken pieces. There are 11 iron items including axes, knives. 312 crystal beads are found, vary in sizes and colors.
Grave IV has 920 relics. 581 relics are porcelains, among which 34 are well-preserved including bowls, pots originating from many places like China, Cham Pa, Viet Nam. Among 547 pieces of broken potteries, 94 pieces are from China, 55 are from Vietnam, 254 pieces are from Cham Pa, 92 pieces are porcelains and 54 pieces are baked clay. There are 117 bronze relics including bracelets, gloves. There are 13 iron relics including axes, knives. There found 219 crystal beads varying in size and colors (red, green, pink, yellow, black, gray).
Grave V has 529 relics. 296 relics are potteries, among which 71 are well-preserved and 198 pieces of potteries. Porcelain relics include bowls, pots. Among 198 pieces of broken potteries, 138 pieces have enamel layer in yellow, brown and black color. Among them, 7 pieces have decoration. There are 60 pieces of baked clay. There are no porcelains found in this grave. There are 53 bronze items including gloves, bracelets, necklaces. There are 15 iron items including axes, knives. There are 176 crystal beads varying in size and color like white, pink, brown, black.
Apart from these items, there found traces of cloth or textile which may be the clothes of the grave owner.
Grave VI has 180 relics. There are 92 relics of potteries, among which 76 are well-preserved including bowls, pots, plates, mostly bowls (61 relics). Most of the potteries are from Cham Pa, 16 pieces are broken baked clay. There are 39 bronze items including gloves, bracelets. There are 11 iron relics including axes, knives. There are 38 crystal beads in two main colors of white and light yellow.
In general, relics found in these graves have certain common feature: mostly porcelains and Cham Pa potteries, reflecting the historical connection between the central coastal area with the highlands. In upper layer, there appear Cham Pa potteries made by locals, and Chinese porcelains (Thanh regime), Viet porcelains (Le regime) of recent age. This reflects the extended relationship of this region with other regions in the country and the world. Pottery relics help to identify the gender of grave owner. For example, graves I, II, III have a large number of jars which may indicate that their owners are male, while graves IV, V and VI have many bowls, plates, cups, jewelry, crystal beads which may indicate that their owners are female. The common relics in these graves are axes, knives, and other tools. These tools are also found in today’s houses of Co Ho, Ma people, which may lead to a conclusion that the owners of these graves can be Ma or Co Ho.
Overview research of all relics, especially porcelains and potteries, shows that graves I, III and IV are dated from 18th or 19th century, and graves II, V are dated from 16th -17th. The oldest grave is MVI which is dated from 15th or 16th century.
Porcelains and potteries found in these grave show a close connection and cultural exchange between highlands residents with other regions like Cham people in the central coastal region, or Viet people and Chinese people in later centuries. Besides cultural exchange, ancient people still preserve their own culture, gradually developing it into a subtle and sophisticated culture.
4. Da Don ancient cemetery
Da Don ancient cemetery is located in village Five, Da Don commune, Lam Ha district. The whole cemetery lies within a narrow valley in the north-south direction, surrounding by hills. The Da K’Sung spring flows through the valley. The traces of this ancient cemetery are small mounds which local residents mistake for ant hills. In 1993, during their cultivation activities in the valley, local people find many relics inside these mounds. At that time, there is a surge in finding archeological relics, hence these mounds are badly dug and damaged. In 1995, official excavation starts in this cemetery.
The excavation is done in a large area of 244m2, with 28m2 more of experimental diggings inside the valley. Due to their current conditions, none well-preserved graves are found for in-depth research. However, relics found provide valuable information about these graves.
Relics are buried concentrated in each mound. There are iron or bronze items surrounding the mound. Together, these relics form a thick cultural layer of 2.3m.
Excavation reveals thousands of porcelains, potteries, mostly broken pieces and 101 well-preserved items.
This collection of porcelains and potteries include Chinese porcelains, mostly porcelains with white enamel with decoration of dragons, phoenixes, flowers dating from 17th or 18th century. Cham Pa potteries account for a large number of relics found. These do not have decoration, and are dated from 14th or 15th century. Besides, there appear Thailand porcelains (Sawaukhloc and Sukbothai). Viet potteries also account for a large number, mostly with blue enamel and beautiful decorations, dating from 16th or 17th century. Kho Me potteries also appear in these graves.
There are 89 iron relics, mostly tools like axes, knives, etc.
There are 385 bronze relics including bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings. Many have large size.
There are 1,354 items of crystal beads made from colorful pebbles or glasses. Besides these relics, there found different types of bones buried inside these graves.
Based on these collections, especially porcelains, it can be identified that the age of these graves are from 17th or 18th century. The collection of potteries also reflects the extended relationship of ancient people at that time. Besides baked clay items, there are porcelains and potteries from China, Viet, Cham Pa, Cambodia, Thailand, and maybe Japan (Hizen potteries). This relationship shows the open-door policy of the highlands area.
With many bronze and iron relics found in many graves, it can be said that these graves are of Ma or Co Ho people.
5. Lac Xuan ancient cemetery
Lac Xuan ancient cemetery is located on a low hill in Lac Xuan, Don Duong district. According to local legend, Co Ho people say these are their ancient ancestors’ graves hundreds years ago. In 1993, grave hunters dig and damage these graves. After the graves are dug up, local residents make a worshipping altar. Most of relics are taken away, yet the remaining items are still abundant in number, types and materials.
Porcelains and potteries here are abundant, mostly are broken pieces with enamel of different colors like white, blue, red, from China, dated from 17th or 18th century. Cham Pa potteries are typically in gray color or dark color, baked in low temperature, without decoration. Bronze items include rings, bracelets, gloves, necklaces. Iron items include knives, chisels, axes, spears. Crystal beads vary in colors and size.
Based on relics found, especially porcelains and potteries, it can be identified that the age of these graves are from 17th or 18th century, similar to those in Dai Lang, Dai Lao, Da Don.
6. Other archeological sites:
Other archeological sites: with a large area of 1 million hectares, located in an important spot of the highlands, bordering with the central coastal areas and southeast lowlands, Lam Dong always has a historical relationship with these regions. Cham Pa culture or Oc Eo culture take chance to influence the local culture in highlands. The cultural connection and exchange create important historical sites in this region of Lam Dong. However, not many official excavations are done, we can already see the richness in types and number of archeological sites here. Some remarkable sites are Pro in Don Duong, or the ruins in Da Huoai with the set of linga-yony.
Besides these archeological sites, other valuable historical sites can be named like Sopmadrong village of Cham Pa kingdom (Don Duong district), or the collection of weapons of Chu Ru people, or collection of belongings of Cham Pa king.
In Krayo temple in La Bui village (Don Duong district), Chu Ru people still preserve a collection of swords, spears, armours and other relics like bronze containers, bronze pots which are believed to be Cham people’s belongings. These relics and archeological sites reflect the history of Lam Dong in close connection and development with other Viet ethnic people.
Relics in Lam Dong provide valuable information to understand the region’s ancient culture. A rich local culture combined with other cultures create a unique highland culture in this region.