Wednesday, September 26, 2012

4000 Year Old Lunar Calendar Uncovered in Vietnam

From Voice of Vietnam Online (

Updated : 2:31 PM, 26/09/2012
Ancient calendar unearthed in Tuyen Quang
Archaeologists have found a stone tool assumed to be an early calendar dating back 4,000 years in a cave in the northern province of Tuyen Quang.
According to Prof. Trinh Nang Chung from the Vietnam Archaeology Institute, the stone tool, with 23 parallel carved lines, seemed to be a counting instrument involving the lunar calendar.  A similar tool was found in Na Cooc Cave in the northern province of Thai Nguyen's Phu Luong District in 1985, Chung said.

Similar items have been found in various areas in the world, including China, Israel and the UK, suggesting that people 5,000 years ago knew how to calculate the lunar calendar by carving on stones.

The stone tool was discovered in a tomb marked with 14 large stones laid at a length of 1.6m. Bones were uncovered under the stones but no skull was found, with Prof. Chung guessing that the skull may have decayed due to the humidity in the cave.  A number of other stone tools were buried with the corpse, he added.

The excavation was conducted on a total area of 20 sq. m inside Nguom Hau Cave in Na Hang District, unearthing about 400 objects to a depth of 1.2m belonging to two cultural layers of the Late Neolithic period (4,000-4,200 years ago) and the Metal Age (around 3,000-3,500 years ago).

The deeper layer (of Late Neolithic), about 1m thick, consisted of well-polished axes and other stone tools, while the later cultural layer measured only 20cm contains fewer tools with axes and ceramic pieces.

There was also a large amount of animal teeth and shells found at the site, thought to be the remnants of food left by the ancient dwellers. Scientists also found traces of burned coal and fire in both layers.

The cave was discovered in May last year, while the excavation was conducted within a 20-day period earlier this month.

Earlier excavations in the same province have found traces of human populations dating back to 7,000-8,000 years ago.

"These findings prove that early people have lived continuously in local caves since 8,000 years ago, until more advanced material cultures developed," Chung said.

What a fascinating find!  My first thought was - with the 'missing' skull, that it may have been kept as an oracle.  Why would the skull dissolve over time but not the other bones????  But I do not know anything about the cultures in the area (in the time period in question or any other time.  We just do not pay much attention to countries like Vietnam in more "popular" press coverage of archaeological discoveries unless they involve TREASURE!

Because of the richness of the burial (OTHER tools/items buried with the bones besides the marked tool/calendar), I assume this was a personage of some importance!  It took a long time to make tools and implements, not to mention artistic objects, out of stone; I cannot imagine that people would readily give these much used, and possibly much loved implements into a burial unless it was very important to do so.  Then again, maybe people then were a lot less selfish and self-centered than we are today. 

The tomb was also maked with" 14 large stones" and, well, the lunar month is roughly 28 days, and one-half of that is -- 14.  Just saying...

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