Oc Eo Culture: A Case Study of Oc Eo Artifacts in Southern Vietnam
by Thi Huynh Phuong Nguyen
A summary of Oc Eo archaeological finds and their importance from a Vietnam touristic angle.
Publication: Can Tho University Journal of Science Vol 3 (2016) 133-142
Language : English
"So far, there have been 50 archaeological sites excavated in various areas in the Mekong Delta such as An Giang, Kien Giang, Can Tho, Dong Thap, Long An, Tay Ninh, Tien Giang, Vinh Long, Tra
Vinh, Dong Nai, Ho Chi Minh city, which divided in three main geographical zones. The excavations
have yielded concentration of relics of particular importance and interest", notes the author of a study commissioned by Can Tho University, [ADB Input: Many of the sites listed as 'South Vietnam' belong to the area formerly known as Kampuchea Krom (Lower Cambodia), and as Cochinchina during colonial times].
Summarizing the geographical and historical significance of Oc Eo civilization, the author remarks: "The evidence of Oc Eo’s importance as a commercial center is patent with excavated artifacts. Infact, plentiful archaeological objects exhumed in Oc Eo sites prove that Oc Eo was the place, in which goods from the Mediterranean, India, China and others places in Southeast Asia were exchanged. First of all, some artifacts produced in India such as intaglios, jewels, tin amulets with symbols of Vishnu and Sihva, gold rings and merchant seals which were inscribed in letters (early Indian scripts), Buddha images in Amaravati styles. Secondly, the objects from China comprise a bronze mirror dated from the later Han dynasty (from the first to the third centuries) and some Buddhist statues from the Wei time (386 – 534 AD). In addition, the proportion of objects of Chinese provenance is less, at Oc Eo, than those of Mediterranean origin. Thirdly, the imports from the Mediterranean are divided into 2 main types, namely Roman materials and gold beads. In terms of Roman materials (from the second to the fourth centuries), they are emphasized by glassware fragments, gold coins minted in the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161–180 AD), gold medal of Antoninus Pius (152 AD). In addition, the gold beads include various types with the form of a twelve sided Solid, which identified as the power of certain numbers."
As for cultural tourism, "nowadays, the Oc Eo artifacts are paid much attention in the preservation and promotion of the Oc Eo cultural values to clarify the history of the South of Vietnam, which expresses the gratitude for today's generation to the ancestors. Apart from local authorities’ properly exploiting, managing and protecting of relics, the propaganda should be strengthened in order to mobilize the whole society to participate in preserving and developing the value of Oc Eo culture in the future."
NB: The author mistakenly quoted Prof. Miriam Stark as 'Miriam' in her bibliography.
Photo: Can Tho women wearing the traditional colored silk tunic 'ao ba ba' of the area (Can Tho Portal)
About the Author
Thi Huynh Phuong Nguyen
Nguyễn Thị Huýnh Phượng is a Vietnamese social science researcher specialized in the history and social dynamics of the communities of the Mekong Delta, and currently Director of the Mekong Institute of Science and Technology Application and Training.
A lecturer at Can Tho University, she has been researching the ecotourism and cultural tourism potential in the Vietnamese part of the Mekong Delta.