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Dragon Tiles Recovered in Vietnam

Friday, April 20, 2018

Vietnam imperial citadelHANOI, VIETNAM—Vietnam Net reports that recent excavations in Hanoi’s Imperial Citadel of Thang Long have uncovered traces of large buildings dating from about A.D. 1000 to 1400 in an area to the east of the Kinh Thien Palace. The researchers uncovered the stone bases of columns and foundations, building and perimeter walls, courtyards, and drainage structures. They also unearthed pieces of the palace’s distinctive roof tiles shaped like dragons and decorated with bright yellow and green enamel. Archaeologist Tong Trung Tin said the dragon-shaped tiles, which date to the early Le Dynasty (A.D. 980 to 1009), “are exactly how they have been described in history.” The line of tubular “body” tiles began with a dragon’s head and ended with its tail. The beasts on the roof of the king’s palace had legs and feet with five claws each, while the dragons on the crown prince’s palace sported legs and feet with four claws. The excavation team members also found pottery from the Mac Dynasty dating to the early sixteenth century, but no traces of Mac architecture. Tin says this reflects the historic record, which suggests Mac Dynasty rulers repaired the palaces of their predecessors, rather than building new ones. The palace was eventually torn down by French colonialists. To read more about archaeology in Southeast Asia, go to "Letter From Laos: A Singular Landscape."

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