A relatively intact bronze drum believed to belong to the Dong Son culture, originating in Vietnam over 2,000 years ago, has recently been discovered in Timor Leste.
The drum, 1.03 metres in diameter, 78 cm in height, and 80kg in weight, was found accidentally at a construction site in Baucau, the second largest city in Timor Leste, in late 2014. However, official information was just released in late November this year after researchers had conducted preliminary assessment.
Archaeologist Nuno Vasco Oliveira from the Timor Lester Government’s General Directorate of Art and Culture said he is certain that the item is a Dong Son bronze drum – an icon of the Dong Son culture (700 B.C. – 100 AD) of the ancient Vietnamese people.
This is not the first time a Dong Son drum has been found in Timor Leste. The ones previously unearthed were badly damaged while the newly found item is in a relatively good condition.
Oliveira said this drum is one of the most intact Dong Son drums that have ever been discovered in Southeast Asia.
Local scientists will continue restoring the object, which is being kept by the General Directorate, and expand excavation near the drum’s location.
Samples of the drum will also be sent to France for in-depth analysis of its material and age. Timor Leste experts believe that it dates back at least 2,000 years.
A number of stone carvings similar to patterns on Dong Son drums had previously been dug up in the east of the Southeast Asian country and the discovery of Dong Son drums provides a strong evidence of the presence of the Dong Son culture in there millennia ago, he said, expressing his hopes for coordination with Vietnamese colleagues in studying that drum.
Dong Son drums are iconic items of the ancient Vietnamese’s Dong Son culture, a Metal Age archaeological culture. They are usually big and have well-proportioned shapes, showing high production skills and aesthetics of the ancient people.
The Dong Son culture got its name from Dong Son village on the bank of the Ma River in the central province of Thanh Hoa. A number of bronze drums were found by chance in 1924, marking the first evidence of the culture's existence.