The findings were reported on September 18 in Hanoi by the Vietnam National Museum of Nature under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology.
Skeleton of four-year-old child
In 2007, Dr. La The Phuc and his colleagues discovered volcanic caves in the Dray Sap special-use forest during a geological heritage research project to serve the construction of a geopark and environmental protection in the area of Trinh Nu Waterfall in Cu Jut District, Dak Nong Province. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) funded this project.
In August 2017, a state-level scientific research project was established to define the heritage value of caves and propose the construction of an on-site conservation museum in the Central Highlands, taking the volcanic caves in Krong No District, Dak Nong Province as an example. The project is headed by Dr. La The Phuc and presided over by the Vietnam National Museum of Nature. In March 2018, the project team excavated C6’ and C6-1 caves, finding many artifacts and relics, including the skeleton of a four-year-old little girl dating back to 6,100 years ago. Pieces of ceramics, stone and animal bones were also found in the cave.
Turning point of Vietnamese paleoanthropology
According to Associate Professor, Dr. Nguyen Lan Cuong, human skeletal remains cannot be conserved in basalt, but ancient humans who lived in these volcanic caves ate mollusks, such as oysters, snails and mussels and their shells. These kinds of calcium-rich food have helped preserve ancient human skeletal remains.
“We have consulted foreign scientists in the US, China, Japan and Australia. They all affirmed that they had never found any ancient human remains in volcanic caves,” Associate Professor, Dr. Nguyen Lan Cuong said.
According to scientists, archaeological remains in the volcanic caves of Dak Nong Province are the only remains of their kind found in Vietnam and Southeast Asia so far. State management authorities should create a suitable legal corridor to conserve these valuable remains and recognize them as an archaeological heritage at a provincial/national or special national level. Excavation activities need to be furthered along with DNA analyses, as well as race, ethnicity and cultural surveys, and other analyses to study the lives of prehistoric residents in Dak Nong.
So far, three tombs with human remains and vestiges of 10 individuals (five newborn babies, one teenager and four
adults) have been excavated in C6-1 Cave. These excavation results will provide the basis for Vietnam to ask
UNESCO to recognize the volcanic caves in the Central Highlands as global geoparks.
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