On 18th and 19th March 2017, the SUNDASIA Project ran a very successful international workshop, hosted by the Tràng An Management Board and Ninh Binh People’s Committee, at the Bai Dinh Hotel, Ninh Binh.

With the Project’s aims of exploring how early humans adapted to cycles of past sea-level change in this part of Southeast Asia and through these data assist in responses to modern climate-change and sea-level rise, presentations were made across a range of fields: including geology, archaeology, environment and climate studies, biodiversity, and public engagement.

The meeting was attended by senior representatives from the Tràng An Management Board, Ninh Binh People’s Committee, Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, the Vietnamese Institute of Archaeology, Vietnamese Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, and the in-coming Vietnamese Ambassador to UNESCO. Five invited specialists with expertise in insular archaeology, Southeast Asian archaeology, biodiversity, curatorial conservation, and World Heritage provided constructive assessments about the strengths of the project and challenges that it faces.

Several positive lines of discussion emerged from the meeting (e.g. in terms of curatorial conservation, exhibitions, and local collaborations). A stand-out result came in the area of biodiversity conservation. Evidence that the project has published about the long-term (tens of thousands of years) stability of limestone forest habitat here through significant wider climatic and environmental changes, together with the prehistoric record of animal in Tràng An offers real potential for the successful re-introduction and survival for locally endangered species, such as Delacour’s Langur. Informal collaborative commitment agreed between the SUNDASIA Project, IUCN and the Tràng An Management Board at this workshop marks an exciting development towards the Project’s goal of bridging past and present. Such collaboration and support is especially important for the Tràng An Management Board to help deliver successful conservation results in this new World Heritage landscape. 

Ryan Rabett, SUNDASIA Project (PI) 27.03.17


Dr Tran Tan Van (Project CI and Director, Vietnamese Institute of Geosciences & Mineral Resources) answering questions about the geology of the Tràng An World Heritage site (Photo: T. Kahlert).


Dr Natalie Ludgate (Queen Mary University of London) presenting on a method for the high resolution reconstruction of past monsoon cycles (Photo: T. Kahlert).


Benjamin Utting (PhD student, University of Cambridge) presenting on the enigma of the Hoabinhian archaeological culture (Photo: T. Kahlert).


Dr Christopher Stimpson (Queen’s University Belfast, Project Site Director), presenting on the animal bone remains recovered from archaeological sites in Tràng An and identified using the collections at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (Photo: T. Kahlert).


Dr Fiona Coward (Project CI, senior lecturer Bournemouth University) and Dr Thomas Leppard (invited archaeological expert, University of Cambridge) at Hang Moi cave during the workshop field excursion into Tràng An (Photo: T. Kahlert).


SUNDASIA International Workshop delegates (Photo: T. Kahlert).

(Image: Bai Dinh Hotel conference venue – R. Rabett)