Sa Huỳnh culture

The Sa Huỳnh culture[lower-alpha 1] was a culture in modern-day central and southern Vietnam that flourished between 1000 BC and 200 AD.[1][2] Archaeological sites from the culture have been discovered from the Mekong Delta to Quang Binh province in central Vietnam. The Sa Huynh people were most likely the predecessors of the Cham people, an Austronesian-speaking people and the founders of the kingdom of Champa.[3]:211–217

Asia in 200 BC, showing Sa Huynh and their neighbors.


The site at Sa Huỳnh was discovered in 1909. Sa Huỳnh sites were rich in locally worked iron artefacts, typified by axes, swords, spearheads, knives and sickles. In contrast, bronze artifacts were dominant in the Đông Sơn culture sites found in northern Vietnam and elsewhere in mainland Southeast Asia.

The Sa Huỳnh culture cremated adults and buried them in jars covered with lids, a practice unique to the culture. Ritually broken offerings usually accompanied the jar burials. The culture is also typified by its unique ear ornaments featuring two-headed animals, believed by some to depict saola.[4] The ornaments were commonly made from jade (nephrite), but also made from glass. Bead ornaments were also commonly found in Sa Huynh burials, most commonly made from glass.

Trade network

The Sa Huỳnh culture showed evidence of an extensive trade network that existed between 500 BC to AD 1500, known as the Sa Huynh-Kalanay Interaction Sphere (named after the Sa Huỳnh culture and the Kalanay Cave of Masbate, Philippines). It was mainly between Sa Huỳnh and the Philippines, but also extended into archaeological sites in Taiwan, Southern Thailand, and northeastern Borneo. It is characterized by shared red-slipped pottery traditions, as well as double-headed and penannular ornaments known as lingling-o made from materials like green jade (sourced from Taiwan), green mica (from Mindoro), black nephrite (from Hà Tĩnh) and clay (from Vietnam and the Northern Philippines).[5] Sa Huynh also produced beads made from glass, carnelian, agate, olivine, zircon, gold and garnet; most of whom use materials that are also imported. Han dynasty-style bronze mirrors were also found in Sa Huynh sites.[5][6][7]

Timeline of Iron age

TarumanagaraPrehistory of IndonesiaHistory of the Philippines (900-1521)History of the PhilippinesImperial VietnamÓc Eo cultureSa Huỳnh culture
Dates are approximate, consult particular article for details
  Prehistoric (or Proto-historic) Iron Age   Historic Iron Age


See also


  1. Pronounced sar-HWING. Frequently misspelled as Sa Huyun culture


  1. John N. Miksic, Geok Yian Goh, Sue O Connor - Rethinking Cultural Resource Management in Southeast Asia 2011 p. 251 "This site dates from the fifth to first century BCE and it is one of the earliest sites of the Sa Huỳnh culture in Thu Bồn Valley (Reinecke et al. 2002, 153–216); 2) Lai Nghi is a prehistoric cemetery richly equipped with iron tools and weapons, ..."
  2. Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts (Bảo tàng mỹ thuật Việt Nam) 2000 "Right from the early history - before and after the Christian era - over twenty centuries ago, there was a cultural exchange among three major Centres Z Đông Sơn culture in the North, Sa Huỳnh culture in Central and south-eastern Nam Bộ ..."
  3. Higham, C., 2014, Early Mainland Southeast Asia, Bangkok: River Books Co., Ltd., ISBN 9786167339443
  4. deBuys, William (2015). The Last Unicorn: A Search For One of Earth's Rarest Creatures. p. 267.
  5. Hung, Hsiao-chun; Nguyen, Kim Dung; Bellwood, Peter; Carson, Mike T. (2013). "Coastal Connectivity: Long-Term Trading Networks Across the South China Sea". Journal of Island & Coastal Archaeology. 8 (3): 384–404. doi:10.1080/15564894.2013.781085.
  6. Solheim, William (1969). "Prehistoric Archaeology in Eastern Mainland Southeast Asia and the Philippines". Asian Perspectives. 3: 97–108. hdl:10125/19126.
  7. Miksic, John N. (2003). Earthenware in Southeast Asia: Proceedings of the Singapore Symposium on Premodern Southeast Asian Earthenwares. Singapore: Singapore University Press, National University of Singapore.
  • Higham, Charles, The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia, ISBN 0-521-56505-7
  • Higham, Charles, Early Cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia, ISBN 1-58886-028-0
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