SUNDASIA is exploring how prehistoric tropical communities adapted to cycles of coastal inundation over the last 60,000 years in northern Vietnam, and how these data can help inform models and responses to modern climate-induced rising seas in this region.

This multi-disciplinary research project is focused on the archaeological, geological and ecological history of the Tràng An massif World Heritage site, Ninh Binh, Vietnam.

SUNDASIA is based at Queen’s University Belfast. Principal collaborating institutions in the UK are: Bournemouth University, University of Cambridge, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and Queen Mary University of London; and in Vietnam: the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, Tràng An Management Board, Ninh Binh Provincial People’s Committee, the Xuan Truong Enterprise, and the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology.


•  17th – 21st June 2019 – Rachael Holmes will be presenting a paper entitled: Phytolith Analysis of Đa Bút and Phùng Nguyên Cave Sites in Tràng An, Northern Vietnam in Session 04 ‘Current State of Archaeobotanical Research in Southeast Asia’ at the 3rd SEAMEO SPAFA International Conference on Southeast Asian Archaeology, Bangkok (abstract)

3rd June 2019 – Ryan Rabett presented a seminar for the Asian Archaeology Group, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge entitled: Results from the 2nd year of the SUNDASIA Project: An overview of outcomes and spin-offs.

•  20th May 2019 – GIAA-funded documentary on the Delacour’s langur is completed by VTV2 to help provide the visiting public to Trang An with information about the species and the trial reintroduction initiative.

•  13th March 2019 – NEW SUNDASIA publication: Stimpson C.M., Utting B., O’Donnell, S, Huong, N.T.M., Kahlert T., Manh B.V., Khanh P.S., Rabett R.J. 2019 An 11 000-year-old giant muntjac subfossil from Northern Vietnam: Implications for past and present populations. Royal Society Open Science 6: 181461.

•  25th – 28th February 2019 – GIAA-funded training in conservation practice (part of the prospective trial reintroduction of Delacour’s langur to Tràng An) led by Tilo and Hien Nadler (IUCN Primate Specialist Group) and Bui Van Tuan (Green Viet, Danang NGO), with contributions from Bui Van Manh (Ninh Binh Department of Tourism), Mai Thanh Huyen (Ninh Binh Forest Protection Department) and Nguyen Van Linh (Van Long Nature Reserve) – Photos: Tilo Nadler and Vu Duy Linh.

Trang An training course-Photo T.Nadler (2)
Trang An training course-Photo T.Nadler (10)

•  Field season (9th November – 6th December 2018)

23rd October 2018 – Drs Parm and Katharina von Oheimb (The Natural History Museum, London) visited QUB at the invitation of Ioanna Bachtsevanidou Strantzali.  Their presentation today was entitled: Community assembly and convergent evolution of land snails (Cyclophorus spp.) on Vietnam’s limestone karsts.


•  15th October 2018 – Congratulations to Rachael Holmes for being awarded: Best Undergraduate Year 2017-18, Faculty of Science & Technology, Bournemouth University.

•  12th October 2018 – SUNDASIA receives UKRI GCRF Global Impact Accelerator Award (GIAA) funding.

•  10-14th October 2018 – Thorsten Kahlert presented at the International Symposium for the Conservation, Research and Sustainable Development of Pre-Historic Heritage, Beijing on: The use of immersive visual technology in the promotion and conservation of prehistoric encultured landscapes: A case study from the Trang An World Heritage property, Ninh Binh, Vietnam (abstract).

 • 1st October 2018 – Shawn O’Donnell presented at the Conference on Past Plant Diversity Changes, Rabat on: SUNDASIA – Evidence for the refugial nature of limestone forest biota on the Trang An Massif karst, Ninh Binh province, Vietnam (abstract).

12-14th September 2018 – Thorsten Kahlert presented at the International Aerial Archaeology Conference AARG 2018 on: Small drone – large impact: modelling a tower karst landscape with a pocket-sized UAV (abstract).

1st September 2018 – Welcome to Sean Pyne-O’Donnell, who joins SUNDASIA for a month to study sediment cores extracted from Trang An for evidence of cryptotephra at Queen’s University Belfast.

• 15th August 2018 – Congratulations to Benjamin Utting on his PhD funding award from the National Geographic Society.

17th July 2018 – Congratulations to Rachael Holmes (Department of Archaeology, Anthropology & Forensics, Bournemouth University) on her 1st Class BSc degree and high 1st Class mark for her dissertation entitled: Phytolith Analysis of Da But and Phung Nguyen Cave Sites in Tràng An, Northern Vietnam.

• 5th July 2018 – Welcome to Ciaran Kelly, who joins the SUNDASIA project on a 2-month summer work-placement to assist Thorsten Kahlert with GIS and archiving.

• 28th June 2018 – Congratulations to all of the great undergraduate students from QUB who have been working on the SUNDASIA Project during the last year. Graduation today!

• 28th June 2018 – Emilie Green receives the Kerr Meritorious Performance Prize, and as joint winner, the Kerr Final Year Dissertation Prize (Archaeology & Palaeoecology, Queen’s University Belfast) for her undergraduate dissertation entitled: The Utilisation of Archaeometric Methods for the Compositional and Residual Analysis of Dabutian Pottery Fragments from the Ninh Binh Province, Northern Vietnam. Meghan McAllister receives the Basil Wilson Prize for best performance in the 3rd Year.

• 21st June – 5th July 2018 – Nguyen Thi Mai Huong is visiting Queen’s University Belfast to analyse sediment cores with Shawn O’Donnell that they collected in Tràng An during the April 2018 field season. 

• 15th June 2018 – Welcome to Evan Hill, who joins the SUNDASIA project in an official capacity on a part-time research assistantship, adding his expertise in carbon off-sets and radiocarbon dating terrestrial land snails to the chronometric component of the project.

• 4-9th June 2018 Vietnam – Chris Stimpson presented at the 18th Congress of the International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (UISPP), Paris on: Spatial and temporal trends in late Pleistocene hunting behaviour in limestone karsts in Northern Vietnam: evidence from the Tràng An World Heritage Area (abstract).

• 15th May 2018 – Congratulations to Benjamin Utting for being awarded PhD funding from the Evans Fund, Cambridge.

10-11th May 2018 – Fiona Coward and Shawn O’Donnell presented at: Bridging the Gap and Crossing Borders: The Transition from Foraging to Farming in Northern Vietnam and Southern China workshop held at the School of Archaeology & Anthropology, Australian National University, Canberra. Presentations entitled, respectively:

• SUNDASIA: recent fieldwork, human-environment interaction and prehistoric social networks in the Tràng An region of northern Vietnam

• Reconstructing mid-Holocene palaeoenvironments in northern Vietnam

Field season (4th – 25th April 2018)

Field season (21st November – 12th December 2017)

• 29th September 2017 – Benjamin Utting achieved a 1st Class grade on his University of Cambridge MPhil dissertation entitled: Exploring Prehistoric Behavioral Responses to Environmental Change: Tràng An Landscape Complex, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam

Forthcoming field season (5th – 24th September 2017)

• 30th August – First Year Report submitted

• 10th July – A report on the first year of the project is in preparation

• 19th May 2017 – SUNDASIA becomes a Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project under the AHRC

• Follow us on Twitter: @SUNDASIAProject and Facebook

Forthcoming workshop and field season (17th March – 6th April 2017)

Forthcoming field season (30th November-21st December 2016)

Forthcoming field season (22nd August-11th September 2016)



Global Challenges Research Fund (AHRC) AH/N005902/1 / Xuan Truong Enterprise

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