Last update 9/22/2011 7:40:00 AM (GMT+7)

Secrets of mummies in Vietnam
VietNamNet Bridge – Behind mummies’ hundred-year sleeps are great secrets. In Vietnam, many ancient tombs have been unearthed, revealing unique embalmment methods.

Dong Nai: 200-year-old mummy unveiled

The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the southern province of Dong Nai has announced the discovery of a mummified woman in an ancient tomb in Cau Xeo commune in Long Thanh district on September 16, 2011.

The department was excavating an ancient tomb site for clearance, to facilitate construction of the Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay highway road, when they unearthed the 200-year-old mummy.  

The excavation team was led by Professor Pham Duc Manh from the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities and renowned archeologist Do Dinh Truat. The mummified remains of the woman as well as its coffin have been preserved and brought to the museum.

Scientists said that the tomb had a secretive rectangular chamber. The tomb was 8.5 meters long including its wall and 4.5 meters wide. The coffin was shaped like a semicircle. It was adorned with a floral patterned cloth and the mummy was wrapped in cloth of a lotus leaf print.

After studying the structure of the tomb chamber and the coffin, archeologists came to the conclusion that the mummy was of noble birth during the Nguyen Dynasty.

Archaeologists will now conduct further research on the mummy along with medical experts from the University of Medicine in HCM City.

Mummy of the later Le dynasty in Nam Dinh

On April 1, 2011, building workers discovered five tombs while building a road in Lien Bao commune, Nam Dinh province. Four of the five tombs are modern, with coffins being worm-eaten. The last tomb has special structure.

The tomb was excavated on September 15 by experts from the Nam Dinh Museum and Dr. Nguyen Lan Cuong, Secretary General of the Vietnam Archaeology Association. The excavation was finalized on September 17.

This is the smallest composite tomb discovered in Viet Nam so far, Nguyen Lan Cuong, said deputy general secretary of the Vietnam Archaeology Association.

The outer coffin was 107cm in length, 36cm in width and 40cm in height, while the inner coffin was 94.5cm in length, 27.3cm in width and 33.4cm in height. The compound was said to consist of lime, molasses, sand and charcoal with a piece of cloth used to enclose the contents.

Archaeologists found a skull and bones, affirming their thought that it was an exhumation tomb. Based on initial studies of the relics unearthed, Cuong supposed that the tomb was built around 300 years ago in the later Le dynasty (1533-1788).

This is the first time researchers have identified oil used to embalm the body. The archaeology crew took the oil and specimens in for research: the bones were put in an oblong earthenware container for reburial and brought to the regional cemetery, while the coffin was displayed at Nam Dinh Museum.

Ancient tomb destroyed in Hung Yen

In late 2007, a private company named Phuc Nga destroyed an ancient tomb in Yen My district, Hung Yen province. According to workers who were involved in destroying the tomb--this ancient tomb was built by a compound of oyster shells, lime, stone powder, etc. The company hired a dozen of workers and used drilling machines to work for three days to break the tomb.

There was a red coffin inside the tomb. The coffin was covered by liquid of over 50cm high. When the coffin was opened, the fragrance of perfume spread over a vast area.

There was the body of an old man inside the coffin. The man is around 1.60m tall. He looked like being buried for not a long time. His hairs and eyebrow were untouched. His skin was soft and ruddy. The mummy was covered by many layers of cloths and wore a long pair of booths.

Believing that the mummy was buried with gold and jewelries, people cut off cloths and clothes of the mummy to seek gold. They took many items buried with the mummy, including hundreds of ancient coins.

The body was then buried in a ready-made tomb build by the private firm. However, the ready-made tomb was built to contain bones while the body was intact, so workers broke off bones to put the body into the tomb.

According to locals, this is the tomb of a duke of the Le dynasty. The public was very discontented over the case.

Mummy in perfume in Hanoi

Ancient coins burried with the mummy in Hung Yen province.
This ancient tomb was also destroyed by a group of people without permission of the authorities. This tomb was discovered in April 2005 in a peach garden in Nhat Tan, Hanoi.

The tomb had three layers. The outer layer is 1.5cm thick, made by mortar, molasses, sticky rice powder and do paper. The second layer is the outer coffin, made of wood, 9cm thick. The coffin is made by canary wood of 10cm thick. The mummy was a man of 60 years old. The mummy was covered by cloths and soaked in perfume. The mummy was exposed by workers before archaeologists arrived.

The mummy was buried with three pillows, a pair of boots, four silk blouses, 10 brocade blouses, 9 ao liem (blouse for the dead), two cloth bags. Items show that the mummy is a rich man in the late 18th century. The mummy was buried at the Nhat Tan Cemetery in May 2005.

The ancient tombs in Hung Yen and Hanoi are two among many ancient tombs that were destroyed by poorly-educated people.

Le Ngoc