Collaborative Archaeological Investigation of Fortification Features at Co Loa


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Grants to Individuals in East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History Dissertation Fellowships (North America)




This project examines the underpinnings of political centralization and complexity in the Bac Bo region of Metal Age Vietnam. It evaluates the relationship between warfare and the emergence of complex polities defined anthropologically as chiefdoms and states. Data is being collected to identify the embryonic conditions present when small-scale, acephalous, and egalitarian communities became subsumed within more complex polities. In collaboration with Vietnamese archaeologists, survey and excavation are being conducted at the site of Co Loa, a fortified, proto-urban citadel in the Red River Valley near Hanoi. In reconstructing the chronological history for Co Loa’s fortifications, the project determines if indigenous political centralization preceded the region’s colonization by the Chinese Imperial Han at 111 BC. The project has broad implications for both state formation theory and debates surrounding the origins of Vietnamese civilization. This project is also building a foundation for future collaborations between Vietnamese and American researchers.