Con Moong Cave

Date of Submission: 21/06/2006
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture and Information
State, Province or Region:
Thanh Hoa, Ninh Binh
Coordinates: N20 40 828 E105 65 131
Ref.: 5072

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Con Moong cave locates in the South of Mo village, Tlianh Yen commune, Thaih Thanh district, Thanh Hoa province, lying in the area of Cuc Phiiong National Park. Cuc Phuong National Park is not ofily the protection unit of rare and precious animals in Vietnam but also a unit for preserving the system of archaeological relics in the prehistorical period significantly not only in Vietnam but in the region as well. Among these relics the most outstanding one is the archaeological site named Con Moong cave (the Beast cave - Con Moons means the Beast in dialect).

In 1976 Vietnamese archaeologists have excavated the site of Con Moong cave.

Con Moong cave lies in the limestone mountain along Da river and in the right bank of Red river, from western north to eastern south; away from Hanoi around 100 km (bee-line) in the west and westem south direction. Con Moong is an airy and nice cave, about 40m high above the valley level where there had been a spring now out of water now; about 40km far away there is a big spring. The cave has two ways connecting each other as drum-barrel form. The archaeologists have excavated the western south entrance where exists in situ the evidence of ancient culture.

The excavation site is 40m2, the mean thickness of stratum is 3.5m. Con Moong cave can be one of archaeological sites that contain the cultural layer thickest and in situ in Vietnam at present. The archaeological site composes of 10 different soil layers. Based on the structure of soil layers and typical items, it can be classified the soil layers into 3 different cultural layers:

(1) Down from the surface, the layers 2, 3, 4 belong to cultural layer III, latest. In this layer they found out some cobble tools as Hoa Binh style, axe wirh blade or Bac Son style and pottery. This is typical for Hoa Binh or Bac Son culture.

(2) The layers 6 and 7 belong to the cultural layer 11. Most of the tools founded here present the typical features of Hoa Binh culture. The stone tools such as cutting tool with almond form, oval form, rectangular form; scraper of plate form, short axe, bone sharpen head tool, scraper of mother of pearl. Huddled tomb stewed with yellow soil founded here is also popular in Hoa Binh excavation sites.

(3) Layer 9 is cultural layer I, earliest. The typical stone tool is cobbles with usable edge laying long the cobble covering one quarter of the cobble; some fragments of broken wine bottle shows the sign of amendment. These tools are typical for Son Vi culture, proving that Hoa Binh culture cones from Son Vi culture.

The layers 5 and 8 are thin with thickness from 10 to 25cn, having burnt spot and inorganic. They are the boundary line dividing the 3 a.m cultural layers.

In all cultural layers, it can be seen the traces of kitchen, the later the more and nearer the cave entrance. Together with kitchen is the shells of moilose such as Cyclophorus, Camraena; Hybocystis, Antirnelania, Lanceolaria Sf nohyriopsls, Ozynaia, Meretrix. Some of these molluses are in situ, others smashed, closely mixed with each other or scattering with soil.

Con Moong archaeological site with a.m stratum is really a key for the understanding of Vietnam and South East Asia prehistory. It has confirmed the continuation of artful technique to make cobble tools with representatives from Son Vi culture to Woa Binh culture, and then Bae Son culture. Con Moong cave may show the evolution of human beings from the end of old stone age, transiting through the middle stone age, to the beginning of new stone zge; from hunting and gathering to plantation and breeding, get rid of primitive age to evolve to civilization age.

The development from Old Stone Age to new Stone Agc in Vietnam also mems the change from Pleistocene to Holocene. The cultural layers I and II with various floristic compositions means that there is only sporoplasm (Polypodiaceae, Cyatheaceae) but not pollen; and vice versa there is only pollen (Chenopodiaceae, Leguminosae, Rubiaceae, Myricaceae, Mzliaceae, Fagaceac) but not sporoplasm in cultural layer II.

At present there are 17.generation C14 for cultural layers in different depths of Con Moong excavation site. The following table shows the duration between Pleistocene and Holocene of the Quaternary period in Vietnam that is mo- le or less 10.000 years ago.

In Con Moong archaeological site, the existence of Son Vi culture at the end of the Old Stone Age has been reconfirmed by stratum docunent. Moreover, formerly Son Vi culture has been only known as existing bcfare Hoa Bish culture but now it is known more clearly that it had been integmted with Hoa Binh culture at the utmost.

Through the tombs founded in cultural layers II and I we have founded out the Son Vi ancient people. The molluse, yellow soil and stone wares buried together with the dead persons give a suggestion that there is a connection between Son Vi and Hoa Binh people based on the ways of bury. The stone wares in layer II is of Hoa Binh culture, but is big not small, and quite different from the European mesolithique. It means that in the mesolithique or epipaleolithique people here did not use the bow and arrow as others, but the abundance of bamboo allowed them use bow and cross-bow without armature as in many other places.

The layer III is of Bac Son culture, similar to Hoa Binh II that had been pot forward before by M.Colani. Hoa Binh II or Bac Son culture really belongs to the New Stone age with the appearance of axe with ground blade and pottery. With blade axe, the human beings had gained great achievement in production technique of stone wares, the beginning for the New Stone age revoltition in Vietnam and the region.

Beside Con Moong cave, other significant archaeological sites have been investigated and excavated as Primitive People cave, Moc Long cave, Moc Long stone roof and Hang Lai cave. Con Moong cave and these reiics form a system of prehistory relics in the valleys in Cuc Phuong National Park with the stable development of culture continuously over 5 thousand years.

The first inhabitant group (Son Vi culture inhabitants) resided in cultural layer I in Con Moong cave had been hunting and gathering in the area of 250km2 in Cuc Phuong valley. Coming to typical Hoa Binh stage, the population increased 3  times, they inhabited in layers I1 Con Moon, Hang Lai, and Moc Long cave. The main economic activity is hunting and gathering. Coming to Bac Son culture (or Developed Hoa Binh stage), the population increased 4 times compared with the beginning stage with cultural vestiges found in Coil Moong cave (the first layer), Moc Long cave, Mai da Moc Long, and Primitive people cave. Besides hunting, gathering the inhabitants had known how to plant to have its root and fruit; they also had the exchanges with the coastal inhabitants.

The enlargement of resident area together with population growth, change of ways of living so that by the ending stage around 7000 years BC, the inhabitants here had made a mass evacuation to occupy Thanh Hoa plain and Nho Quan - Tam Diep (Ninh Binh), to create a new cultural appearance - Da  But culture - the Middle of New Stone age in Vietnam.

Cuc Phuong National Park has been a primitive tropical forest, the important reserve of fauna and flora gene source in Vietnam and the Region. In the area of 22.200 ha, it has contained 1/4 of the total flora ic the whole Indochina, including: 1880 species, 887 branches, and 221 families. It can be classified as followings: flora calyces: 33 families, 80 branches, 140 species; Flora fern: 31 families, 57 branches, 149 species; open-nut flora: 3 families, 3 branches and closed nut flora: 154 families, 747 branches, and 1588 species. It also gathers here most of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate trees. Cuc Phuong National Pnor k is also an abundant zone of fauna. Among 233 species of fauna there are 64 animals, 137 birds, 34 reptiles, 17 disomic and several fish species. It is an area of many beautiful butterfly species with draft statistics of IS00 ones.

Cuc Phuong National Park is a primitive forest with the existence of thousand years - parashrea stellata, ancient sapindus, straight Dang tree; with beautiful caves as Con Moong, Primitive people cave, God cave, Crescent Moon cave, Spring cave, Dang Prince Consort cave, ... each attracts visitors by its own language.

Con Moong cave and prehistory relics in Cuc Phuong National Park are system of relics which has been located in the, eco-environment of prehistory culture of human beings relatively in situ.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Con Moong cave relics are under management of Tanh Hoa Relics and Landscape Management Board.

The excavation work in Con Moong cave area has been implemented less than 100m2, the excavated items are now kept in Thanh Hoa Museum for preservation and displaying work. This is an archaeological site with great potential undiscovered for further archaeological research.

Comparison with other similar properties

In the world there are some famous caves considered human beings' heritages that should be protected but these often prove only for a certain stage of the people. It is the same for Con Moong cave as it is only a roof for the former inhabitants and gives the vestige of a cultural stage. The important thing is how typical that stage present for human beings' history. For this reason, we may make some comparison with other typical caves in the world and Vietnam.

For example, in the cave no. 1 in Chu Khau Diem (China) {hey have discovered the fossil remains of dead persons and trimmed stone tools taht presents for the early culture of the Old Stone age of Homo erectus existed over 300,600 years ago.

In South East Asia there is archaeological sited of the Big Cave Niah (in the Kalimantal Island) with stratum of 3m thick. At the bottom layer, they have  found out the fossil remained skull of modem people (Homo sapiens) existed in 41,000 BP. They also found out there the vestiges of the Old Stone culture and New Stone culture similar to the ones in Hoa Binh and post Koa Bich culture. It is pity that the vestiges of tools are very few here. The Tabon Cave in Philippines shows the existence of tools from late Pleistocene to early Holocene, from the Old Stone to New Stone age about 40,000 years BP.

We have discovered in Vietnam more thar. 200 caves with prehistorical vestiges. There are some caves with fossil vestiges of biology and human beings as Tham Khuyen, Tham Hai, Hang Hum, Tham Om, ... and also some caves with prehistorical vestiges Nguom skill such as Mai da (Stoce roof) Nguom, Mieng Ho (tiger mouth) cave; of Son Vi culture as Nui hlor cave, Thung Khu, ...; of Moa Binh culture as Bon village, Tung cave, ...; of Bac Son culture as Tham Khoach, hang Doi (Bat cave), ... But there is not any other archaeological site being able to find out 2 cultural layers Son Vi and Hoa Binh cext to each other. And also no where else it can be found out those vestiges of latter cave culture with relation between closed valleys as in Cuc Phuong. Moreover it witnessed the inter-valley connection and the development of post cave culture.