Con Moong Cave

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Con Moong Cave
Coordinates20°17′15″N 105°36′18″E / 20.28750°N 105.60500°E / 20.28750; 105.60500Coordinates: 20°17′15″N 105°36′18″E / 20.28750°N 105.60500°E / 20.28750; 105.60500

Con Moong cave (Vietnamese Hang Con Moong) is located in the south of Mọ village, in Thành Yên commune, in the Thạch Thành District of Thanh Hóa Province, lying in the area of Cúc Phương National Park. Cúc Phương National Park not only protects the rare and precious animals in Vietnam, but also is a preserve for the archaeological relics of the prehistorical period that are significant not only to Vietnam, but also to the greater region. Among these relics, the most outstanding one is the archaeological site of Con Moong cave ("the beast" cave). In 1976 Vietnamese archaeologists excavated the site.[1]

Site description[edit]

Con Moong cave lies in a limestone mountain along the Da River, and on the right bank of the Red River. It is located about 100 km south-west of Hanoi. Con Moong is an airy cave, about 40 m above the valley level, where there was once a spring that has now dried up; about 40 km away, however, there is a big spring. The cave has two entrances that connect with one another in the form of a drum-barrel form. The archaeologists have excavated the south-western entrance, where there is in-situ evidence of an ancient culture.

The excavation site is 40 m², and the average thickness of stratum is 3.5 m. Con Moong Cave may be one of the archaeological sites with the thickest cultural layers in Vietnam. The archaeological site contains 10 different soil layers. Based on the structure of soil layers and typical items, the soil layers can be classified into three different cultural layers:

  1. Down from the surface, layers 2, 3, and 4 belong to cultural layer III, which is the most recent. In this layer they found out some cobble tools, such as a Hòa Bình-style axe with blade, or Bắc Sơn-style and pottery. This is typical for Hòa Bình or Bắc Sơn culture.
  2. Layers 6 and 7 belong to cultural layer II. Most of the tools found here present the typical features of Hòa Bình culture. The stone tools such as cutting tool with almond form, oval form, rectangular form; scraper of plate form, short axe, bone sharpen head tool, scraper of mother of pearl. The huddled tomb with yellow soil found here is also popular in Hòa Bình excavation sites.
  3. Layer 9 is cultural layer I, the earliest. The typical stone tools with usable edges were covering one quarter of the cobble; there were also some fragments of broken wine bottles. These tools are typical for Sơn Vi culture, proving that Hòa Bình culture comes from Sơn Vi culture.

Layers 5 and 8 are thin, with thickness from 10 to 25 cm, having burnt spots and inorganic material. They are the boundary line dividing the 3 cultural layers.

In all cultural layers, traces of cooking can be seen, the later ones being nearer to the cave entrance. Together with the kitchen areas are the shells of mollusc, such as Cyclophorus, Camraena, Hybocystis, Antirnelania, Lanceolaria sp. nohyriopsls, Ozynaia, and Meretrix. Some of these molluscs are in situ, others smashed, closely mixed with each other or scattered in the soil.[1]


Con Moong archaeological site is really a key for the understanding of Vietnamese and South East Asian prehistory. It has been confirmed that the continuation of art techniques to make cobble tools with representatives from Sơn Vi culture to Hòa Bình culture, and then Bắc Sơn culture. Con Moong Cave may show the evolution of human beings from the end of the old stone age, transiting through the middle stone age, to the beginning of the new stone age; from hunting and gathering, to plantation and breeding, the occupants of the site transitioned from a primitive stage to an age of civilization.

The development from Old Stone Age to new Stone Age in Vietnam also implies a change from the Pleistocene to the Holocene. Cultural layers I and II have various floristic compositions, which means that there is only sporoplasm (Polypodiaceae, Cyatheaceae) but not pollen; and vice versa, there is only pollen (Chenopodiaceae, Leguminosae, Rubiaceae, Myricaceae, Mzliaceae, Fagaceac) but not sporoplasm in cultural layer II.

At present there are 17 generations C14 for cultural layers in different depths of the Con Moong excavation site. The duration between Pleistocene and Holocene of the Quaternary period in Vietnam that is more or less 10,000 years ago.

In the Con Moong archaeological site, the existence of Sơn Vi culture at the end of the Old Stone Age has been reconfirmed by stratum document. Moreover, formerly Sơn Vi culture has been only known as existing before Hòa Bình culture but now it is known more clearly that it had been integrated with Hòa Bình culture at the utmost.

Through the tombs found in cultural layers II and I, we have found out about the Sơn Vi ancient people. The mollusks, yellow soil, and stone wares buried together with the dead people suggest that there is a connection between Sơn Vi and Hòa Bình people based on the burial forms. The stone wares in layer II are of the Hòa Bình culture, but are big not small, and quite different from the European mesolithic. It means that in the mesolithic or epipaleolithic, people here did not use the bow and arrow as others, but rather the abundance of bamboo allowed them to use bows and cross-bows without armature, as in many other places.

Layer III is of the Bắc Sơn culture, similar to Hòa Bình II that had been put forward before by M. Colani. Hòa Bình II or Bắc Sơn culture really belongs to the New Stone Age, with the appearance of axes with ground blades and pottery. With blade axes, the human beings had gained great achievement in production techniques of stone wares, the beginning for the New Stone Age revolution in Vietnam and the region.[1]

World Heritage status[edit]

This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on 21 June 2006, in the Cultural category.