HANOI – Japanese and Vietnamese researchers have excavated remains of a 17th-century bridge believed to have been built by Japanese settlers at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hoi An in central Vietnam.
The so-called Japanese Bridge, a covered wooden structure with a Buddhist pagoda on one side, is in Hoi An’s old city. The bridge has been repaired a number of times since the 18th century by Vietnamese and Chinese, and contains no traces of the original.
The researchers from Showa Women’s University in Tokyo and Hanoi National University found clayware and carbonized wooden pegs that appear to have supported bridge columns.
These were dug out from a 17th-century geological layer 2.2 meters beneath a road at one end of the bridge.
The team conducted the excavation together with the city, which was doing work on the sewage system at the site.
Seiichi Kikuchi, an assistant professor at Showa Women’s University in Tokyo, said the group’s next mission is to figure out how to preserve the bridge remains.
Many Japanese, Chinese, Dutch and Indians settled in Hoi An, a small town on the South China Sea, in the 16th and 17th centuries when it was an important trading center.
Hoi An’s old town was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1999 as a well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port of the 15th to 19th centuries, with buildings that are a unique blend of local and foreign influences.
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