SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Legends, Histories, and Archaeology: The Making of Ancient Vietnam

Nam C Kim Photo
Nam C. Kim (Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Date: 2 May 2018Time: 2:00 PM

Finishes: 2 May 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B204

Type of Event: Workshop

Note: Internal event not open to external attendees.


Considered by many to be the crucible of ancient Vietnamese civilization, the northern reaches of present-day Vietnam witnessed momentous cultural change during the first millennium BC. Situated on the cusp of historical visibility, the various communities of the Red River valley and delta have been the subject of legendary accounts, historiographical study, and national imagination. Over the past century, our knowledge of this region’s late prehistoric and early historic periods has been steadily augmented by archaeological investigations. Today, researchers combine texts with artifacts and modified landscapes in efforts to understand the societies inhabiting the area on the eve of the Han Empire’s arrival. Archaeological data related to the Dongson Culture and the massive settlement known as Co Loa have become important facets in ongoing research. These materials and sites have come to play a key role not only for constructions and reconstructions of early history in Vietnam, but also for perceptions of national identity and issues of cultural heritage management.

Speaker Biography

Nam C Kim is an anthropological archaeologist interested in sociopolitical complexity, early forms of cities, and the relationship between modern politics, cultural heritage, and the archaeological record. He is also especially interested in the evolution and cultural contexts of organized violence and warfare. Much of his recent research has been geographically focused on East and Southeast Asia, and he currently conducts archaeological fieldwork in Vietnam at the Co Loa settlement of the Red River delta. Located near modern-day Hanoi, Co Loa holds national significance and is connected to Vietnamese legendary accounts. It is viewed by many as integral to the genesis of Vietnamese civilization. Aside from its historical and national import, the case of Co Loa is salient for archaeological theory as it constitutes one of the earliest cases of state formation and urbanism in Southeast Asia.

Event sponsored by the SOAS Centre for Southeast Asian Studies with the generous support of the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme, funded by the Alphawood Foundation.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

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