Who invented the bronze drum? Nationalism, politics, and a Sino-Vietnamese archaeological debate of the 1970s and 1980s

Xiaorong HAN, Butler University

Han, X. 2004. Who Invented the Bronze Drum? Nationalism, Politics, and a Sino-Vietnamese Archaeological Debate of the 1970s and 1980s. Asian Perspectives 43 (1): 7-33.

doi: 10.1353/asi.2004.0004

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Abstract

This paper reviews the Sino-Vietnamese archaeological debate of the 1970s and 1980s pertaining to the origins of the bronze drum, specifically analyzing how nationalism and international politics had an impact on both the questions posed by archaeologists as well as the answers they provided to these questions. Based on a reading of the major works on the bronze drum published in Viet Nam and China since the 1950s, particularly those published in the 1970s and 1980s, this paper argues that the debate between Chinese and Vietnamese archaeologists on the origins of the bronze drum in general, and the dating, classification, and interpretations of the decorations of the bronze drum in particular, had many of its origins in the political and military conflicts between the two countries, to the extent that an individual archaeologist's views of certain issues were largely determined by his nationality. KEYWORDS: archaeology, bronze drum, China, nationalism, Viet Nam.