Webinar on “Digging Up Dai Viet’s Glorious Past: An Introduction to Archaeology and Arts of Vietnam”

In the tenth webinar in the webinar series, Mr Alex Do Truong Giang gave an introduction to the Đại Việt’s Imperial Capitals and the royal architectural system from the Ly, Tran, Ho, and Le dynasties, he also shared on the archaeological site of Thăng Long citadel, located in present-day Hanoi.


Wednesday, 17 November 2021 – The ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute hosted Mr Do Truong Giang of the Institute of Imperial Citadel Studies of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences in a webinar titled “Digging Up Dai Viet’s Glorious Past: An Introduction to Archaeology and Arts of Ancient Vietnam”.  This webinar was part of the Temasek History Research Centre’s Archaeology and Art History Programme of Southeast Asia covering the major kingdoms and material cultures of Southeast Asia over the last 1,000 years and was moderated by one of the programme’s conveners, Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan.

Mr Alex Do Truong Giang
Mr Alex Do Truong Giang introduces us to the Đại Việt’s Imperial Capitals and the royal architectural system from the Ly, Tran, Ho, and Le dynasties. With Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan as moderator. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

The presentation centred around the ancient capital of Thăng Long, present-day Hanoi, which succeeded the first capital of Hoa Lu in Ninh Binh province in 1010 CE. For 800 years, Thăng Long was the seat of power for the Dai Viet (Great Viet) until the Nguyen Dynasty made a new capital Huế, Central Vietnam. Mr Giang focused his attention on the glorious periods of the Lý, Trần and Lê Dynasties (11-15th centuries CE).

Archaeological excavations conducted over the past two decades at the site of the Thang Long Citadel have revealed extensive remains of the royal citadel and palace architecture associated with the palaces, Lý, Trần and Lê Dynasties including foundational structures, wells, brickwork, roof tiles and various ceramic pieces. The remains of the imperial citadel were recognised as Unesco World Heritage in 2010, while the finds from Vietnam National Assembly building are now displayed in an on-site museum.

Mr Giang also shared a video of a digital reconstruction of the Lý dynasty palace which during its time was painted red. In the second part of his talk, Mr Giang spoke about the production of ceramics in Vietnam during the 14-15th centuries. The Thang Long kilns produced exquisite pieces for royal and Buddhist use but also in this period a variety of Vietnamese kilns produced different kinds of wares, some of which can be seen at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore.

In the 15th century, production and distribution of Vietnamese ceramics greatly increased in conjunction with the so-called “Ming Gap”. The extent of the Vietnamese ceramic industry during this period can be inferred from the Cu Lao Cham shipwreck which was recovered between 1997-2000 off the coast of Quang Nam. This shipwreck yielded more than 240,000 objects, most of which were Vietnamese ceramics. At the same time, finds of Vietnamese ceramics in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand confirm their distribution in the region as well.

The webinar was attended by 129 people, mostly from Singapore and within the region. Ceramics was the decided theme for the question and answer session, as most questions were related to the different types of ceramics on display at the presentation, and in particular, roof tiles.

129 participants attended the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)