International Symposium Underwater Archaeology in Vietnam and Southeast Asia: Potential and challenged issues

Call for paper

 Southeast Asia is a sub-region of Asia, consisting of two geographic regions: Mainland Southeast Asia and Maritime Southeast Asia, which are bounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans. The region is located at the intersection of the maritime trade networks between the East and the West. Furthermore, the ecology of Southeast Asia which includes the regime of the monsoons and the numerous waterways that cross the different countries also contribute to the maritime conjuncture of the cultures that developed near the sea. In thousand years of history, cultural exchanges and maritime trade activities contributed greatly to the nourishment of cultures and civilizations in Southeast Asian countries. Evidence of this historical process has been found lavishly from archaeological sites on land and under the water as well as from submerged sites.

As part of mainland Southeast Asia, Vietnam with a 3500 km coastline also holds old traditions of seafaring activity and maritime connections for which there are evidence in early prehistoric submerged sites, historical ancient ports/harbours and shipwrecks. In recent years, several shipwrecks have been discovered and salvaged in Vietnam. A large amount of artefacts, including trading ceramics were recovered from these shipwrecks which help to improve our understanding about the maritime activities along Vietnamese and Southeast Asian coastlines and the seas and which highlight the role of the Vietnamese ceramic industry during the second millennium AD. A few international collaboration programs, meetings and trainings have been conducted successfully since the late 2000s. They improved our awareness on the value of underwater heritage but have also put forward the challenges in researches and protection of these cultural resources.

The lack of human resources, expertise, methodologies, facilities, equipments and well planed strategies in researches, conservation and promotion of the protection of underwater cultural heritage are great challenges for Vietnam. No proper excavations of these wrecks have been conducted yet. Some other Southeast Asian countries are facing similar issues, and have been responding to the necessity to protect the maritime heritage at various levels. This symposium is the opportunity to discuss, share and learn the best practices and lessons in order to develop maritime archaeology and the protection of underwater cultural heritage in a most appropriate way to the Southeast Asian context.


Objectives and main themes

This conference aims at providing a platform for scholars who have been contributing to this field in Southeast Asia and Vietnam to present their research results, best practices in protection and conservation of UWH, to discuss the issues related to the management of sites and the future of underwater archaeology in the region. The main themes of the conference will be:

–          RESEARCH: examples of successful and on-going research in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries

–          CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT: Sharing experiences on conservation and protection of underwater archaeological sites and related artefacts – good practices and lessons

–          INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: Seeking and developing opportunities for international cooperation and capacity building of human resources

 Organizing institutions

–          Institute of Archaeology (VASS)

–          People’s Committee of Quang Ngai Province

 Venue and time:

Venue: Quang Ngai City

Time: 14-16 October, 2014

(Including the visit to shipwreck sites and museum in Quang Ngai province)

Support from the Organizing institutions

All the participants will be supported with meals and accommodation during 3 days of the Symposium. Transportation from Da Nang Airport to the Symposium venue will be provided.


Paper and Presentation

Papers and presentations related to 3 mentioned themes are welcome.

Deadline for registration: May 31, 2014

Deadline for abstract submission and final title: July 31, 2014 (300 words)

Deadline for draft paper submission: September 15, 2014 (3000-6000 words, including references)

Individual presentation: 20 minutes, including 5 minutes for questions

 Round Table discussion

For participants who will not present a paper, your ideas and discussion on regarded themes and other essential issues (including those emerged during the field visit) are welcome. We will dedicate a specific time/day in order to encourage discussion and collaboration about specific case studies. If you do not present, please prepare some background information about particular issues that you wish to discuss and inform the conference organisers.

 Main contact person:

Dr. Le Thi Lien, Institute of Archaeology (VASS), 61 Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hanoi, Vietnam


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