An imperial citadel in Hanoi dating back several centuries to the Tran Dynasty might have been larger than originally thought, archaeologists speculate.
As befits a capital city that celebrates its 1,000th anniversary next year, the soil of Hanoi continues to yield vestiges of its glorious past.
A recently ended two-year excavation covering 2,626 square meters at No.62-64 Tran Phu Street in Ba Dinh District has thrown up 14th and 15th century artifacts like glazed dishes, ceramic pottery and iron ware.
The digging also found more than 70 human remains speculated to be of soldiers who died in battles.
However, scientists from Vietnam Archaeology Institute, which initiated the excavation, said the most amazing finding for them was the section of a street with lemon flower-carved tiles, a typical architectural feature of the Tran Dynasty (1226-1397).
“This means Thang Long Imperial Citadel under the Tran Dynasty wasn’t limited to the area atNo.18 Hoang Dieu Street
[also in Ba Dinh District].”
The citadel, which was first discovered in 2002 during excavation work to build a new national assembly, was one of the three rings of the ramparts of a citadel system dating back to the 11th century that went through many changes under six feudal dynasties and French domination.
From December 2002 to the beginning of 2004, the archaeology institute unearthed many vestiges and artifacts from Ly, Tran, Le and Nguyen dynasties in the 19,000-squaremeter area onHoang Dieu Street
. Many objects dating to between 7th and 9th centuries, the time of Chinese domination, were also found.
During the excavation onTran Phu Street
, scientists found a section of the foundation of a dyke system that ran parallel to a protective fort under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1943).
Based on the remains, which is well-preserved underground, they will be able to sketch a more exact picture of the structure and location of the citadel under the Nguyen Dynasty, Can said.
However, more excavation and study are needed as there are many questions about the citadel still left unanswered.
“We need to conduct more excavations on a larger scale [ … ] several excavation sites are still not enough for us to restore the historical picture,” Can said.
In the meantime, all vestiges and artifacts unearthed onTran Phu Street
are being preserved by the Management Board of the Relics of Ancient Thang Long Citadel while sections of dykes have been moved to the site of the Co Loa Citadel relics in Dong Anh District.
The vestiges will be put on public display to commemorate the capital’s 1,000th anniversary next October, local newspaper An Ninh Thu Do (Capital’s Security) reported.
Rise and fall
Since it was named the capital of Dai Viet Kingdom (now Vietnam) in 1010 by King Ly Thai To, the founder of the Ly Dynasty (1010-1225), Thang Long (ascending dragon) remained the capital through dynasties Ly, Tran, and Le.
However, under the Nguyen Dynasty it was turned into the central city of the north Vietnam (Tran Bac Thanh), while the capital was moved to the central town of Hue.
According to Vietnam’s application for UNESCO cultural heritage recognition of the Thang Long – Hanoi citadel complex, in the 11th century, a citadel system was built with three ramparts: the Dai La Citadel, which acted as a defensive rampart with a complete dyke system, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel; and the Forbidden City, where the king and his royal family lived.
In 1805, King Gia Long of Nguyen Dynasty ordered the destruction of the Thang Long Imperial Citadel to build the Hanoi Citadel, which was smaller. The French later demolished the Hanoi citadel for building a city.
The remains of the Thang Long Citadel’s foundation and walls are buried underground, according to scientists and historians.
LY THAI TO WHO?
At a recent conference on capital city’s millennial anniversary this month, over 60 local and foreign historians debated the origins of King Ly Thai To.
Many said historic records failed to state who was the king’s father while Ly Cong Uan did not seem to be his real name as commonly thought. There was also debate about the hometown of the Ly royal family.
Professor Nguyen Quang Ngoc, chairman of the Hanoi History Society, said over the past 20 years many conferences and research projects have been carried out on the Ly Dynasty and its role in Vietnam’s history.
However, to date, “the knowledge of King Ly Thai To’s origin, the Ly family’s hometown and Thang Long Capital are still vague and contradictory,” Ngoc said.
Source: Thanh Nien
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