Vietnam monuments under threat

Vietnam is an ancient land filled with historic monuments, but archaeologists say many are falling into ruin.

Sites like Hue, the old capital of Vietnam pictured here, are crumbling under the strain of centuries of weathering and an increased number of visitors, while the Vietnam Archaeology Association complains it lacks the funding to make necessary repairs. The famous citadel at the UNESCO World Heritage Site is in especially bad repair, with one archaeologist saying it will be gone entirely within 15 years if nothing is done.

Historic preservation and restoration require some serious training, and qualified preservationists are in short supply in Vietnam.

Archaeologists are especially worried about 82 giant steles in Hanoi bearing the names of ancient degree earners. Some date back to the fifteenth century and it’s traditional for Vietnamese students to run their hands along their surfaces for good luck before taking exams. With one million visitors last year, the wear and tear on the carved lettering can be imagined.

Archaeologists hope that funding to preserve the steles may be forthcoming thanks to UNESCO recently naming them a World Heritage Site.

[Photo courtesy user abaesel via Gadling's flickr photostream]