Research projects

Current project: The surviving legacy of the Dong Son culture within the indigenous peoples of the Central Highlands of Vietnam

Dong Son, in Northern Vietnam, is one of the most important Bronze Age sites of Southeast Asia. Its culture (6th B.C. – 1st A.D.) is well known for the production of the ‘bronze drums’ – metal instruments richly decorated with mysterious scenes and motifs, the interpretation of which has always been controversial. These instruments had a very special significance, associated with a certain religious-philosophical conception, which was widespread throughout Southeast Asia, and accompanied the diffusion of the bronze drums themselves.

My project is intended to find evidence for the claim that some traces of the Dong Son culture can still be found within living ethnic groups of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. I intend to demonstrate that, thanks to these traces, it is possible to reach an understanding of the religious-philosophical conception that dictated the scenes of the Dong Son bronze drums of ‘Heger I’ type.

This project pertains to the field of Archaeomusicology, defined as the study of music as culture through the remains of antiquity. In its turn, Archaeomusicology originates from ethno-archaeology, which has been described as the collection of original ethnographic data in order to aid archaeological interpretation. Within this framework a certain relevance is given to the study of living music traditions, which is accomplished through the methods of ethnomusicology and anthropology.