A Country amidst Tensions between Cultures

No country in south-eastern Asia has carried out so many excavations and built so many museums as Vietnam has. Guided by the archaeological discoveries of the last six decades, visitors to the exhibition will go on a fascinating journey through more than ten thousand years of Vietnam's cultural history, from the Stone Age to the present. The exhibition assembles archaeological jewels from eight Vietnamese museums: oldest Stone Age finds, examples of excellent bronze craftsmanship and gold objects. They come from bizarre cavern landscapes, from graves hidden in the jungle, from settlements in river valleys and on mountain plateaus.

Epochs and Find Complexes

Almost 400 exhibits from 45 find complexes tell the story spanning ten thousand years of one of the most fascinating countries of south-eastern Asia, amidst tensions between India and China, from the Stone Age to the most recent past. The design of the exhibition derives from the ground plan of a temple complex, with the full-sized model of a temple at its centre. Giant atmospheric landscape pictures immerse the visitor in Vietnam's extraordinary cultural and natural landscapes.

The Dong Son culture is amongst south-eastern Asia's most magnificent Metal Age cultures. Weapons, vessels and jewellery are expertly cast and richly decorated. The bronze drums were symbols of the Dong Son elite which were “consecrated” and after the death of their owners were buried with  them. The richness of many graves, such as the boat-shaped grave of Viet Khe with its almost 100 bronze objects, is unsurpassed and documents the heyday of this society.

From the 2nd century AD a new power, the Cham empire, arose, whose culture and religion were shaped by India. The temples of the ruined city of My Son, a World Cultural Heritage site since 1999, with their imposing, innovative architecture, provide us with an impression of the economic and political power of the Cham.

Than Long – The Empire's Centre of Power

1010 AD – 17th century

Amongst the archaeological finds from Than Long there are precious metal objects, pottery, wood and stone sculptures which provide us with an impression of the magnificence and riches of the former capital. The characteristic terracotta dragon heads were intended to protect the palace complex. During building work in 2001 previously unknown remains of the citadel of Than Long were uncovered. Since then it has been extensively excavated; in 2010 it was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.