New Evidence of Prehistoric Human Presence in Ba Be National Park

Written on July 23, 2020

In July 2020, a significant discovery was made in the field of archaeology in caves of our beloved Ba Be national park, in Bac Kan province, Northern Vietnam. Archaeologists unearthed several objects dated to 20,000 years ago, shading a new light on the early traces of human life in the area.

Ba Be national park possesses a unique ecosystem consisting of mountains made up mainly of limestone karst which is characteristic of the north of Vietnam, and forests of mostly evergreen vegetation. At its centre is Ba Be lake, one of the largest natural lakes in the world, situated at an altitude or 178 metres above sea level. It consists of three smaller lakes surrounded by limestone karsts, some of which open up into magnificent caves. These were formed over years of erosion and new discoveries are regularly made as the exploration of the park gets deeper and deeper.

It is in some of those caves that ancient human traces have been found earlier this month. The findings were announced on July 18, 2020 by Trinh Nang Chung, PhD, from the Institute of Archaeology of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences in Hanoi. He and his colleagues dig out a collection of almost 100 objects in total between the caves of Tham Khit, Tham Mya, Na Phoong and Ba Cua.

Na Phoong Cave, South of Ba Be National Park

The most ancient traces were found in Tham Khit cave, situated 50 metres above the lake surface. The artefacts discovered include stone tools along with teeth and animal bones, which they believe are food leftovers, estimated to be about 20,000 years old.
Tham Mya Cave provided stone objects dated from the Hoa Binh civilisation that lived during the Mesolithic between 12,000 and 10,000 BC. The caves of Na Phoong and Ba Cua have revealed ceramic objects dated back to early stages of the Bronze Age around 2,000 BC.

Examples of artefacts found in Tham Khit cave, North of Ba Be National Park

This is a great discovery for Vietnam, not only for the archaeological field but also the growing fame of Ba Be national park. The destination, already less frequented by tourists, will attract more people, providing great support for the local ethnic groups as well as a greater attention to protection measures of the park and lake’s flora and fauna.
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