MMG LXML Sepon is supporting the preservation of Lao cultural heritage through promotion of archeological research in cooperation with the Lao Government.
A combined team of archaeologists from the Department of National Heritage and James Cook University in Australia has returned to the Peun Baolo site at Sepon mine. The team also includes representatives from local villages and 20 students from the National University of Laos.
Excavations at Sepon uncovered a rich cultural history of mining and settlement dating back 2,500 years. Evidence of ancient copper mining shafts and copper ingots traded across Southeast Asia in ancient times have demonstrated the importance of mining in regional economic development.
The research program is supported by MMG Limited through a long-term partnership with the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism (Dept. of National Heritage) and James Cook University.
Important heritage finds include an impressive Dong Son-era bronze drum on display at the National Museum in Vientiane. Crucibles, copper ingots, jewellery, ceremonial items, and other significant artifacts demonstrate Laos' pivotal place in the cultural history of the region.
Heritage items are discovered as 'chance finds' through Sepon’s UXO clearance program. The program has cleared over 80,000 pieces of explosive ordinance, making local communities safer.
LXML and James Cook University also jointly sponsored Lao researchers to share their experience at the Australian Archaeological Association Conference in Cairns, 1-3 December 2014.
"This work is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Dr Nigel Chang. "It demonstrates how communities in Laos traditionally refined and exchanged minerals for thousands of years in the region. We are learning much about the ancient history of Southeast Asia from these projects."
"The project is extremely important in preserving the legacy of ancient Lao culture for future generations," said Dr Viengkeo Souksavatdy, Deputy Director General, Department of Heritage, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. "It was made possible by the partnership between the Lao Government, LXML, and James Cook University. Socio-economic development must proceed side-by-side with conservation of national heritage. The Vilabouly Cultural Hall sponsored by LXML showcases one of the most valuable archaeological collections in the Lao PDR."
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