Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Archaeological surveying and excavation at Dong Ma Ngua site in 2010

Archaeological surveying and excavation at Dong Ma Ngua site in 2010
by Jun Kimura, Research Associate, Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M (PhD candidate, Maritime Archaeology Program, Flinders University)

Site: Dong Ma Ngua (DMN), Nam Hoa commune, Yen Hung district, Quang Ninh province
Date of the fieldwork: 15th April -8 May, 2010
Director of the excavation: Dr. Le Thi Lien, Institute of Archaeology (IA), Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences
Advisors: Dr. Mark Starniforth, Associate Professor, Maritime Archaeology Program (MAP), Flinders University, Dr. James P. Delgado, Director, Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA)
Texas A&M Participants: Ms. Nguyen Mai Huong, Kieu Dinh Son, Dr. Bui Thi Mai, Dr. Michel Girard, Charlotte Minh Ha Pham, Jun Kimura and Burton Britt Jane.
The excavation was sponsored by Quang Ninh Provincial Government.

Figure 1. There is a local area known as a Shipwreck Place by local people, suggest to conduct excavation to find ship remains.

This is a brief report on archaeological fieldwork conducted at the site of Dong Ma Ngua (DMN) located along Bach Dang River during 15th April -8 May in 2010. The excavation follows the 2009 season work by a project team from INA, MAP, IA that proceeded to a test excavation (Sasaki R & Kimura, J 2010a; 2010b). Besides the outcome of the fieldwork, this report includes a proposal for the next November/December Survey should target the implementation of survey on Ngon song Kenh” or “Kenh Riverhead”. The area has been reclaimed and hardly see on the map, yet it is used to be surrounded by the Duong Giang high ground and has been known as a part of Kenh River. The Kenh River is one of the three major channels that used to connect Bach Dang River and Chanh River, yet might have many small streams. There is a higher ground area locally called “Shipwreck place”, located along the border of the ancient Kenh River (Figure.1). This particular area is regarded as a relevant location where the team should proceed to an intensive survey by coring and using other remote sensing equipments. Based on some perspectives in this report, the survey in the next season aims at identifying targets and is expected to lead better understanding of the naval battle between the Yuan/Mongolian and Dai Viet.

Summary of the fieldwork
Figure 2. Dong Ma Ngua site. H1 trench in the right side and H4 is trench in the left side, divided by the string line. The stakes diagonally driven in different orientation. (Photo by Nguyen Mai Huong).

The fieldwork is divided into two periods, contributed by different members of the team. During the first fieldwork from 15 – 25 April, two Bench-marks (BM) were set around beside a fish pond known as the DMN site and excavation commenced. The second period of the fieldwork consisted of 10 days from 30 April to 8 May, and another two BMs during the last phase and small trenches are extensively opened around the fish pond. Throughout all this period, four permanent benchmarks (BM) were set. By the end of the fieldwork, four trenches (H1, 2, 3, 4) have been opened on the DMN site (Figure.2). They are located in the fish pond (dried) and measuring approximately 20 x 15m. Two additional test pits (TS1 & TS2) were opened at the rice fields around DMN to confirm the sediments in the surrounding area and to develop our understanding of the topographical features. As a result of the excavation in the fishpond (DMN), 55 stakes (plus two large wood pieces) were identified. Moreover, a large number of ceramic shreds were identified (possibly dating to after the 15th century, some seem to be earlier though, Dr. Le Thi Lien is currently analysing them). A small-square earthen coffin, likely to be dated to after the 17-18th century, was found in one of the two test trenches (TS1).
Archaeological works conducted in the trenches of the fishpond include sediments profile recording and stakes recording (detailed descriptions, measurements, photos). Small wood samples were also collected from all of these recorded stakes. By using a total station, the position of these stakes and a few important topographical features around the site, such as a concrete irrigation channels, BMs, fish ponds, waterways and high grounds were recorded. Photo mosaics of the exposed stakes in the trenches H3 and H4, showing the stakes concentration, were produced. Recovered artefacts vary, classified into shreds of ceramics, fragments of earthen tiles, pieces of bricks, remains of stakes, wooden remains, one corroded metal object, pieces of bone (likely from a mammal and a bird). All of them were numbered and some of the ceramic shards and the wooden elements were photographed.

The fieldwork conducted from April to May allowed us to inspect DMN in detailed level. Due to various limitations and to the nature of the excavation site that was initially chosen by the local authorities, the team did not extend the survey and excavation area. All the work contributed to a better understanding of the stakes‟ driven pattern, their use, and a clearer reconstruction of the past landscape was achieved. It is clearer that stakes have been intensively distributed in narrower area and limited space. Therefore, a simplification that stakes have located among natural barriers such as higher ground and river rock must be carefully reviewed. On the final day, preliminary results were presented at the authorities‟ meeting. Participants included the Director of the Institute of Archaeology in Hanoi, the Previous Minister of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, the Representative of Regional Communist Party, officials from the District, the Province and of the Commune. The significance of this kind of meeting is to withdraw people‟s attention and raise public interest for wider support including preservation of recovered artefacts and relevant management of the site contributed by broader level of people.

Lê, Liên Thị 2005. "Báo cáo kêt Quả Khảo Sát Thám Sát: Bãi cọc Bạch Đảng Đỏng Vạn Muơi. (Report of the Archaeological Exploration and Excavation of the Bach Dang Stake Field in Dong Van Muoi)." Internal Report for the Institute of Archaeology, Hanoi.
Sasaki, R, & Kimura, J, 2010a 'A case study: Archaeological evidence of the Yuan/Mongolian invasions at Bach Dang river and Takashima', Introduction to Maritime archaeology and insight to its application in the Asia-Pacific Region, from IPPA 19th Congress, Hanoi.
Sasaki, R, & Kimura, J, 2010b 'The Bach Dang Battle Site Survey Project 2009', INA Annual, in print, Texas.

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