Vietnam Maritime Archaeology Project – The final results

With the project coming to a close, results have to be written up. The versatility of the different assignments means that there are a number of conclusions that can be drawn for this project. These results range from the archaeological results of the underwater archaeology conducted to the more anthropological results of the Vietnamese shipbuilding research.

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The visits to the different shipbuilding yards near Hoi-An helped in giving us an understanding of the maritime techniques used in Vietnam. This resulted in numerous drawings of ships as well as in giving the trainees extensive practice in the process of drawing these ships. These results are important for both the capacity building as well as to create a frame of reference for possible finds, and how to register these finds.

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Furthemore, extensive practice and research with 3D-photogrammetry software was carried out. This way we were able to create 3D records of a number of boats, ceramic artefacts, and cannons located in Hoi-An and Hue.  These were usually objects of unknown origins and these 3D models can be used by experts to gain more information regarding these artefacts. Attempts are also being made at creating a 3D model of the site at Bai Ong which could be extremely useful for mapping and possibly even locating finds in the area. This modelling is still in progress.

As for the underwater archaeological surveys, a number of different results were achieved. First of all, we (re)located a number of potential archaeological sites, such as the stone anchor site, through diving surveys and interviews with local fishermen and divers. Also, numerous sites containing ceramic artefacts were located around the coastline of the Cu Lao Cham islands which can be useful for future research by the Vietnamese Institute of Archaeology.

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Most importantly though was the discovery of the possible shipwreck site located in Bai Ong. This site contained a plethora of ceramic artefacts and could prove to be an important site for future research.  What we were able to find out about the site in a three day non-intrusive survey was this: the site consists of an area with broken pottery. Most of them are from one type of storage jars from the 16th to 17th century. The objects are caught in sand pockets and beneath rocks in the shallows of the shore of the Cham Islands. Other pottery found at the site– in smaller amounts – also has the same date.  The pottery that is surfacing the seabed is concentrated in a small area of about 20 by 25 metres. A corroded iron nail that was found on site might indicate the presence of a shipwreck. Hopefully wood is still preserved in the larger depressions between the rocks that are filled with sand. Further research has to confirm this. There were reports of wood being sighted at the site but we were unable to relocate this.

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I hope everyone has enjoyed following the project through this blog and other sources, and keep following the maritime programme for more updates on the numerous projects that they have going on!

For the last time, greetings from Hoi-An,


Over Maritiem Programma

Het Maritiem Programma van de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed houdt zich bezig met het onderzoek naar scheepswrakken, bruggen, havens en andere maritieme landschappen. Het doel is om kennis, onderzoek, beleid, samenwerking en educatie op het gebied van maritiem erfgoed in Nederland een stevige basis te geven. Het programma loopt van 2012 tot en met 2015.

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