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Ancient Dong Son Drum Unearthed in Timor Leste

Dong Son drum found in Hoa Binh Province

<![CDATA[A large bronze drum thought to be from the more than 2,000 year old Vietnamese Dong Son culture was recently unearthed within the island nation of Timor Leste, located southeast of Indonesia. The 80kg drum, measuring more than a meter in diameter and 78 cm high, was initially discovered in Timor Leste’s second largest city, Bacau, during construction efforts undertaken in the latter months of 2014. After nearly a year of analysis and assessment on behalf of local archaeologists from the General Directorate of Art and Culture, officials from the Timor Lester government have announced that the drum is a cultural artifact of the ancient Vietnamese people, specifically the Dong Son culture that inhabited the region between 700 BCE and 100 AD. While Timor Leste is separated from mainland Southeast Asia by a considerable margin, it has been the site of the discovery of other drums dating from the Dong Son period. However, this newest find represents one of the most well-preserved drums ever uncovered on the island, with other drums being in vastly deteriorated and damaged states. In fact, according to Nuno Vasco Oliveira, archaeologist for the Timor Lester government, this newest find is likely to be the most intact Dong Son drum ever found anywhere in Southeast Asia. The General Directorate will remain in possession of the drum as local scientists continue their restoration efforts. Experts working on the artifact believe the drum is at least 2,000 years old. In order to ratify their claims, several small samples of the drum are scheduled to be sent to France for more exhaustive analysis of its age and the material from which it’s made. The location where the drum was found will be subjected to expanded excavation efforts as well, in an effort to discover any other hidden artifacts dating to the same period. Timor Leste has also been the location of several archaeological finds featuring stone carvings that have patterns similar to Dong Son drums. These previous discoveries, paired with ever-increasing evidence in the form of Dong Son drums in the archaeological record of the country, have strengthened the hypothesis that Dong Son culture had spread to Timor Leste during its heyday, Oliveira related to Vietnam Net. The archaeologist has hopes to coordinate with colleagues in Vietnam to further study the newly-exhumed drum. The first bronze Dong Son drums were discovered in Vietnam’s central Thanh Hoa province, where a number were unearthed in close proximity to Dong Son village. The drums themselves, based on their moderate size and well-balanced proportions, have been used as evidence that the Dong Son culture had relatively high levels of aesthetics and production skills. ]]>

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