|Province||An Giang Province|
|District||Thoại Sơn District|
|Time zone||UTC+7 (UTC+7)|
Óc Eo (from the Khmer អូរកែវ, "O'keo", or "Or Gaio", meaning "Glass canal") is an archaeological site in Thoại Sơn District in southern An Giang Province, Vietnam, in the Mekong River Delta region of Vietnam. It is also one of the modern day communes of Vietnam. Óc Eo may have been a busy port of the kingdom of Funan between the 1st and 7th centuries AD. Scholars use the term "Óc Eo Culture" to refer to the ancient material culture of the Mekong Delta region that is typified by the artifacts recovered at Óc Eo through archeological investigation.
The Archeological Site
Excavation at Óc Eo began on February 10, 1942 after French archaeologists had discovered the site through the use of aerial photography. The first excavations were led by Louis Malleret. The site covers 450 ha.
Óc Eo is situated within a network of ancient canals that crisscross the low flatland of the Mekong Delta. One of the canals connects Óc Eo to the town's seaport while another goes 42 miles north-northeast to Angkor Borei. Óc Eo is longitudinally bisected by a canal, and there are four transverse canals along which pile-supported houses were perhaps ranged.
Archeological sites reflecting the material culture of Óc Eo are spread throughout southern Vietnam, but are most heavily concentrated in the area of the Mekong Delta to the south and west of Ho Chi Minh City. The most significant site, aside from Óc Eo itself, is at Tháp Muời north of the Tien Giang River, where among other remains a stele with a 6th-century Sanskrit text has been discovered.
Aerial photography in 1958 revealed that during the Funan period a distributary of the Mekong entered the Gulf of Thailand in the vicinity of Ta Keo, which was then on the shore but since then become separated by some distance from the sea as a result of siltation. At that time, Ta Keo was connected by a canal with Oc Eo, allowing it access to the Gulf. The distributary of the Mekong revealed in the aerial photography was probably the Saenus mentioned in Claudius Ptolemy’s Geography as the western branch of the Mekong, which Ptolemy called the Cottiaris.
The remains found at Óc Eo include pottery, tools, jewelry, casts for making jewelry, coins, and religious statues. Among the finds are gold jewellry imitating coins from the Roman Empire of the Antonine period. Many of the remains have been collected and are on exhibition in Museum of Vietnamese History in Ho Chi Minh City.
Óc Eo and Funan
Óc Eo has been regarded as belonging to the historical kingdom of Funan (扶南) that flourished in the Mekong Delta between the 1st and the 6th century CE. The kingdom of Funan is known to us from the works of ancient Chinese historians, especially writers of dynastic histories, who in turn drew from the testimony of Chinese diplomats and travellers, and of foreign (including Funanese) embassies to the Chinese imperial courts. Indeed, the name "Funan" itself is an artifact of the Chinese histories, and does not appear in the paleographic record of ancient Vietnam or Cambodia. From the Chinese sources, however, it can be determined that a polity called "Funan" by the Chinese was the dominant polity located in the Mekong Delta region. As a result, archeological discoveries in that region that can be dated to the period of Funan have been identified with the historical polity of Funan. The discoveries at Óc Eo and related sites are our primary source for the material culture of Funan.
The Vietnamese archaeologist and historian Hà Văn Tấn has written that at the present stage of knowledge, it was impossible to demonstrate the existence of a Funan culture, widely spread from the Mekong Delta through the Chao Praya delta to Burma, with Oc Eo as the typical representative: the presence of similar artefacts such as jewelry and seals from sites in those areas was simply the result of trade and exchange, while each of the sites bore the signs of their own separate cultural development. He supported the view of Claude Jacques that, in view of the complete lack of any Khmer records relating to a kingdom by the name of Funan, use of this name should be abandoned in favour of the names, such as Aninditapura, Bhavapura, Shresthapura and Vyadhapura, which are known from inscriptions to have been used at the time for cities in the region and provide a more accurate idea of the true geography of the ancient Khmer territory. Hà Văn Tấn argued that, from the late neolithic or early metal age, Óc Eo gradually emerged as an economic and cultural centre of the Mekong Delta and, with an important position on the Southeast Asian sea routes, became a meeting place for craftsmen and traders, which provided adequate conditions for urbanization, receiving foreign influences, notably from India, which in turn stimulated internal development.
Oc Eo as the Kattigara of Ptolemy
Óc Eo may have been the port known to the Romans as Kattigara. Kattigara was the name given by the 2nd century AD Alexandrian geographer Claudius Ptolemy to the land on the easternmost shore of the Mare Indicum at (due to a scribal error) eight and a half degrees South of the Equator.
The name "Kattigara" was probably derived from the Sanskrit Kirti-nagara कीर्ति- नगर “Renowned City” or Kotti-nagara कोटि-नगर “Strong City”.
Scholarship has now determined that Ptolemy's Kattigara was at eight and a half degrees North of the Equator, and was the forerunner of Saigon as the main port and entrepot at the mouth of the Mekong.
John Caverhill deduced in 1767 that Cattigara was the Mekong Delta port Banteaymeas (now Hà Tiên), not far from Óc Eo. The plea in 1979 by Jeremy H.C.S. Davidson for “a thorough study of Hà-tiên in its historical context and in relation to Óc-eo” as indispensable for accurate understanding and interpretation of the site, still remains unanswered.
The eighteenth century French geographer, Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville, located Cattigara at the mouth of the Mekong (Cottiaris) River, where it is shown on his map, Orbis Veteribus Notus (The World Known to the Ancients).
The Swedish yachtsmand and writer Bjorn Landström also concluded, from the sailing directions given by the ancient merchant and seafarer Alexander, that Cattigara lay at the mouth of the Mekong.
The “father of Early Southeast Asian History”, George Coedès, has said: “By the middle of the 3rd century Fu-nan had already established relations with China and India, and it is doubtless on the west coast of the Gulf of Siam that the furthest point reached by Hellenistic navigators is to be found, that is the harbour of Kattigara mentioned by Ptolemy”. A.H. Christie said in 1979 that “the presence of objects, however few in number, from the Roman Orient” added some weight to the conjecture that Óc-eo was the Ptolemaic Kattigara. The distinguished German classical scholar, Albrecht Dihle, supported this view, saying:
From the account of the voyage of Alexander referred to by Ptolemy, Kattigara can actually be located only in the Mekong delta, because Alexander went first along the east coast of the Malacca peninsula, northward to Bangkok, from thence likewise only along the coast toward the south east, and so came to Kattigara. We hear nothing of any further change of course. In addition, at Oc Eo, an emporium excavated in the western Mekong delta, in the ancient kingdom of Fu-nan, Roman finds from the 2nd century after Christ have come to light.
Columbus' search for Ciamba
Guided by Ptolemy, the discoverers of the New World were initially trying to find their way to Kattigara. On the 1489 map of the world made by Henricus Martellus Germanus, based on Ptolemy’s work, Asia terminated in its southeastern point in a cape, the Cape of Cattigara. Writing of his 1499 voyage, Amerigo Vespucci said he had hoped to reach Malacca (Melaka) by sailing westward from Spain across the Western Ocean (the Atlantic) around the Cape of Cattigara into the Sinus Magnus, the Great Gulf that lay to the East of the Golden Chersonese (Malay Peninsula), of which the Cape of Cattigara formed the southeastern point. The Sinus Magnus, or Great Gulf, was the actual Gulf of Thailand.
Christopher Columbus, on his fourth and last voyage of 1502-1503, planned to follow the coast of Champa southward around the Cape of Cattigara and sail through the strait separating Cattigara from the New World, into the Sinus Magnus to Malacca. This was the route he thought Marco Polo had gone from China to India in 1292. Columbus planned to meet up with the expedition sent at the same time from Portugal around the Cape of Good Hope under Vasco da Gama, and carried letters of credence from the Spanish monarchs to present to da Gama. On reaching Cariay on the coast of Costa Rica, Columbus thought he was close to the gold mines of Champa. On July 7, 1503, he wrote from Jamaica: “I reached the land of Cariay…Here I received news of the gold mines of Ciamba [Champa] which I was seeking”.
- Paul Lévy, “Recent Archaeological Researches by the École Français d’Extrême Orient, French Indo-China, 1940-1945”, in Kalidas Nag (ed.), Sir William Jones: Bicentenary of his Birth Commenoration Volume, 1746-1946, Calcutta, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1948, pp.118-19; paraphrased in R. C. Majumdar, Ancient Indian colonisation in South-East Asia, Baroda, B.J. : Sandesara, 1963, pp.12-13.
- Aulis Lind, “Ancient canals and environments of the Mekong Delta, Vietnam”, Journal of Geography, vol.79, no.2, February 1980, pp.74-75.
- Identified as such by C. E. Gerini, Researches on Ptolemy's Geography of Eastern Asia; Asiatic Society Monographs, Vol. I, 1909, pp.193, 775 and Albert Herrmann, „Die alten Verkehrswege zwischen Indien und Süd-China nach Ptolemäus“, Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin, 1913, pp.771-787, p.784.  English translation at: 
- Louis Malleret, “Le trace de Rome en Indochine”, in Zeki Velidi Togan (ed.), Proceedings of the Twenty-Second International Congress of Orientalists held at Istanbul, 1951, Vol.II, Communications, Leiden, Brill, 1957, pp.332-347.
- Brigitte Borell, ”Some Western Imports assigned to the Oc Eo Period Reconsidered”, in Jean-Pierre Pautreau et al. (eds.), From Homo Erectus to the Living Traditions: Choice of Papers from the 11th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists, Bougon, 25th-29th September 2006, Chiang Mai, Siam Ratana, c2008, pp.167-174.
- Lương Ninh, “Óc Eo - Cảng thị quốc tế của Vương quốc Phù Nam (Óc Eo – International Trade Port of Funnan Kingdom)”, Khảo cổ học / Vietnam Archaeology, 3, 2011, pp.39-44.
- Claude Jacques, “‘Funan’, ‘Zhenla’: The Reality Concealed by these Chinese Views of Indochina”, in R. B. Smith and W. Watson (eds.), Early South East Asia : Essays in Archaeology, History and Historical Geography, New York, Oxford University Press, 1979, pp.371-9.
- Ha Van Tan, "Óc Eo: Endogenous and Exogenous Elements", Viet Nam Social Sciences, 1-2 (7-8), 1986, pp. 91-101.
- Pang Khat, «Le Bouddhisme au Cambodge», René de Berval, Présence du Bouddhisme, Paris, Gallimard, 1987, pp.535-551, pp.537, 538; Amarajiva Lochan, ”India and Thailand: Early Trade Routes and Sea Ports”, S.K. Maity, Upendra Thakur, A.K. Narain (eds,), Studies in Orientology: Essays in Memory of Prof. A.L. Basham, Agra, Y.K. Publishers, 1988, pp.222-235, pp.222, 229-230; Prapod Assavavirulhakarn, The Ascendancy of Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia, Chieng Mai, Silkworm Books, 2010, p.55.
- "Oc-Eo dans le delta du Mékong serait donc une identification plus probable": Germaine Aujac, Claude Ptolémée, Astronome, Astrologue, Géographe: Connaissance et Représentation du Monde habité, Paris, Editions du CTHS, 1993, p.125, n.10. See also Adhir Chakravarti, “The Economic Foundations of Three Ancient Civilizations of South-east Asia: Borobudur, Dvararavati and Angkor: Preliminary Report of a Study Tour in some countries of South-east Asia in April–May 1985”, in Haraprasad Ray (ed.), Studies on India, China, and South East Asia: Posthumous Papers of Prof. Adhir Chakravarti, Kolkata, R.N. Bhattacharya, 2007, p.89; and Adhir Chakravarti, “International Trade and Towns of Ancient Siam”, Our Heritage: Bulletin of the Department of Post-graduate Training and Research, Sanskrit College, Calcutta, vol.XXIX, part I, January–June 1981, pp1-23, nb p.9. An alternative proposed by J. L. Moens was that the name derived from the Sanskrit, Koti-nagara “Cape City”, referring to its location near Cape Ca Mau, the southern point of Indochina: J. L. Moens, "De Noord-Sumatraanse Rijken der Parfums en specerijen in Voor-Moslimse Tijd," Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, LXXXV, 3, 1955, pp.325-336, p.335; also J. L. Moens, "Kotinagara het antieke handescentrum op Yava's. Eindpunt," Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, LXXXV, 3, 1955, pp. 437-48, p.448; and also W.J. van der Meulen, "Ptolemy's Geography of Mainland Southeast Asia and Borneo," Indonesia, no.19, April 1975, pp.1-32, p.17.
- Paul Schnabel, „Die Entstehungsgeschichte des kartographischen Erdbildes des Klaudios Ptolemaios“, Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften: Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften, Bd.XIV, 1930, S.214-250, nb 239-243. Erich Polaschek, ‘Ptolemy's "Geography" in a New Light’, Imago Mundi, Vol. 14, (1959), pp. 17-37, nb pp.25 & 35. Bagrow, L. (January 1, 1945). "The Origin of Ptolemy's Geographia". Geografiska Annaler (Geografiska Annaler, Vol. 27) 27: 318–387, nb 322–323. doi:10.2307/520071. ISSN 1651-3215. JSTOR 520071.
- Adhir K. Chakravarti, “Early Sino-Indian Maritime Trade and Fu-Nan”, D.C. Sircar (ed.), Early Indian Trade and Industry, Calcutta, University of Calcutta Centre of Advanced Study in Ancient Indian History and Culture, Lectures and Seminars, no.VIII-A, part I, 1972, pp. 101-117; also in The South East Asian Review (Gaya, India), vol. 20, nos.1 & 2, 1995, pp.5-14, p.10; and in India and South-East Asia Socio-econo-cultural Contacts, edited by N.N. Bhattacharyya, Kolkata, Punthi Pustak, 1998, p.413.
- Albert Herrmann, “Der Magnus Sinus und Cattigara nach Ptolemaeus”, Comptes Rendus du 15me Congrès International de Géographie, Amsterdam, 1938, Leiden, Brill, 1938, tome II, sect. IV, Géographie Historique et Histoire de la Géographie, pp.123-8; Louis Malleret, L’Archéologie du delta du Mékong, Tome Troisiéme, La culture du Fu-nan, Paris, 1962, chap.XXV, “Oc-Èo et Kattigara”, pp.421-54.
- John Caverhill, “Some Attempts to ascertain the utmost Extent of the Knowledge of the Ancients in the East Indies”, Philosophical Transactions, vol.57, 1767, pp.155-174.
- Jeremy H.C.S. Davidson, “Archaeology in Southern Viet-Nam since 1954”, in R. B. Smith and W. Watson (eds.), Early South East Asia: Essays in Archaeology, History, and Historical Geography, New York, Oxford University Press, 1979, pp.215-222, see p.216.
- Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d' Anville, Eclaircissements géographiques sur la carte de l'Inde, Paris, Imprimerie Royale, 1753, pp.160-161; Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d' Anville, A Geographical Illustration of the Map of India, Translated by William Herbert, London, 1759, p.78; Atlas de d'Anville, 1786. Orbis Veteribus Notus
- Bjorn Landström, The quest for India : a History of Discovery and Exploration from the Expedition to the Land of Punt in 1493 B.C. to the Discovery of the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 A.D., in words and pictures, London, Allen & Unwin, 1964, p.56.
- George Coedès, “Some Problems in the Ancient History of the Hinduized States of South-East Asia”, Journal of Southeast Asian History, vol.5, no.2, September 1964, pp.1-14. Coedès clarified what he meant in his book, Les Peuples de la Péninsule Indochinoise: Histoire - Civilisations (Paris, Dunod, 1962, pp.62, translated by H.M. Wright, The Making of South East Asia, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1966, p.58-59): “Now Fu-nan occupied a key position with regard to the maritime trade routes, and was inevitably a port of call both for the navigators who went through the Straits of Malacca and for those – probably more numerous – who made the transit over one of the isthmuses of the Malay Peninsula. Fu-nan may even have been the terminus of voyages from the Eastern Mediterranean, if it is the case that the Kattigara mentioned by Ptolemy was situated on the western coast of Indochina on the Gulf of Siam”.
- A.H. Christie, “Lin-i, Fu-nan, Java”, in R. B. Smith and W. Watson (eds.), Early South East Asia: Essays in Archaeology, History, and Historical Geography, New York, Oxford University Press, 1979, pp.281-7, see p. 286.
- Albrecht Dihle, Umstrittene Daten: Untersuchenen zum Auftreten der Griechen an Roten Meer, Köln und Opladen, Westdeutsch Verlag, 1964, S.30.
- Albert Herrmann, “Der Magnus Sinus und Cattigara nach Ptolemaeus”, Comptes Rendus du 15me Congrès International de Géographie, Amsterdam, 1938, Leiden, Brill, 1938, tome II, sect. IV, Géographie Historique et Histoire de la Géographie, pp. 123-8
- George E. Nunn, ‘The Three Maplets attributed to Bartholomew Columbus’, Imago Mundi, vol.9, 1952, 12-22, p.15; Helen Wallis, ‘What Columbus Knew’, History Today, vol.42, May 1992, pp.17-23; Edmundo O'Gorman, The Invention of America: An Inquiry into the Historical Nature of the New World and the Meaning of its History, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1961, pp.106-122.
- The letter, dated 14 March 1502, is published in Martin Fernandez de Navarrete, Coleccion de los Viages y Descubrimientos, 2nd. edn., Madrid, Imprenta Nacional, 1858, p.430; the covering letter to Columbus is published in A. Millares Carlo (ed.), Historia de las Indias por Fray Bartólome de las Casas, México, Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1951, Lib.2, cap.iv, pp.219-20.
- Letter dated 7 July 1503; quoted in J.M. Cohen (ed.), The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1969, p.287.
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|Prehistoric cultures of Vietnam|
|Sơn Vi culture (20,000-12,000 BC)|
|Hoabinhian (12,000-10,000 BC)|
|Bắc Sơn culture (10,000-8,000 BC)|
|Quỳnh Văn culture (8,000-6,000 BC)|
|Đa Bút culture (6,000-5,000 BC)|
|Phùng Nguyên culture (5,000-4,000 BC)|
|Đồng Đậu culture (4,000-2,500 BC)|
|Gò Mun culture (2,500-2,000 BC)|
|Đông Sơn culture (2,000 BC-200 AD)|
|Sa Huỳnh culture (1,000 BC-200 AD)|
|Óc Eo culture (1-630 AD)|
- Albert Herrmann, “Der Magnus Sinus und Cattigara nach Ptolemaeus”, Comptes Rendus du 15me Congrès International de Géographie, Amsterdam, 1938, Leiden, Brill, 1938, tome II, sect. IV, Géographie Historique et Histoire de la Géographie, pp. 123–8.  English translation at 
- Albert Herrmann, “South-Eastern Asia on Ptolemy’s Map”, Research and Progress: Quarterly Review of German Science, vol.V, no.2, March–April 1939, pp. 121–127, p. 123.
- Albert Herrmann, Das Land der Seide und Tibet in Lichte der Antike, Leipzig, 1938, pp. 80, 84.
- Louis Malleret, L’Archéologie du delta du Mékong, Tome Troisiéme, La culture du Fu-nan, Paris, 1962, chap.XXV, “Oc-Èo et Kattigara”, pp. 421–54.
- John Caverhill, “Some Attempts to ascertain the utmost Extent of the Knowledge of the Ancients in the East Indies”, Philosophical Transactions, vol.57, 1767, pp. 155–174.
- Adhir K. Chakravarti, “Early Sino-Indian Maritime Trade and Fu-Nan”, D.C. Sircar (ed.), Early Indian Trade and Industry, Calcutta, University of Calcutta Centre of Advanced Study in Ancient Indian History and Culture, Lectures and Seminars, no.VIII-A, part I, 1972, pp. 101–117.
- George Cœdès, “Fouilles en Cochinchine: Le Site de Go Oc Eo, Ancien Port du Royaume de Fou-nan”, Artibus Asiae, vol.10, no.3, 1947, pp. 193–199.
- George Coedès, review of Paul Wheatley, The Golden Khersonese (Kuala Lumpur, 1961), in T'oung Pao 通報, vol.49, parts 4/5, 1962, pp. 433–439.
- George Coedès, “Some Problems in the Ancient History of the Hinduized States of South-East Asia”, Journal of Southeast Asian History, vol.5, no.2, September 1964, pp. 1–14.
- Albrecht Dihle, “Serer und Chinesen”, in Antike und Orient: Gesammelte Aufsätze, Heidelberg, Carl Winter, 1984, S.209.
- J.W. McCrindle, Ancient India as described by Ptolemy, London, Trubner, 1885, revised edition by Ramachandra Jain, New Delhi, Today & Tomorrow’s Printers & Publishers, 1974, p. 204:
- George E. Nunn, ‘The Three Maplets attributed to Bartholomew Columbus’, Imago Mundi, 9 (1952), 12-22, page 15; and Helen Wallis, ‘What Columbus Knew’, History Today, 42 (May 1992), 17-23.
- Quoted in J.M. Cohen (ed.), The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1969, p. 287.
- Ha Van Tan, "Oc Eo: Endogenous and Exogenous Elements", Viet Nam Social Sciences, 1-2 (7-8), 1986, pp. 91–101.
- R. Stein, “Le Lin-yi 林邑, sa localisation, sa contribution à la formation de Champa et ses liens avec la Chine”, Han-Hiue 漢學, Bulletin du Centre d’Études sinologiques de Pékin, vol.II, pts.1-3, 1948, pp. 115, 122-3.
- R. Stein, review of Albert Herrmann, Das Land der Seide und Tibet im Lichte der Antike (Leipzig, 1938), in Bulletin de l’École Française d’ Extrême-Orient, tome XL, fasc.2, 1940, p. 459.
- Paul Lévy, “Le Kattigara de Ptolémée et les Étapes d’Agastya, le Héros de l’Expansion Hindoue en Extrême-Orient”, in XXIe Congrès Internationale des Orientalistes, Paris, 1948, Actes, Paris, Société Asiatique de Paris, 1949, p. 223.
- Paul Demiéville, review of R. Stein, “Le Lin-yi 林邑”, (Han-Hiue 漢學, vol.II, pts.1-3, 1948), in T'oung Pao 通報, vol.40, livres 4/5, 1951, pp. 336–351, n.b. pp. 338, 341.
- Paul Lévy, “Recent Archaeological Researches by the École Français d’Extrême Orient, French Indo-China, 1940-1945”, in Kalidas Nag (ed.), Sir William Jones: Bicentenary of his Birth Commenoration Volume, 1746-1946, Calcutta, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1948, pp. 118–19; paraphrased in R. C. Majumdar, Ancient Indian colonisation in South-East Asia, Baroda, B.J. : Sandesara, 1963, pp. 12–13.
- Pierre-Yves Manguin, “The archaeology of Fu Nan in the Mekong River Delta: the Oc Eo culture of Viet Nam ”, in Nancy Tingley and Andreas Reinecke, Arts of ancient Viet Nam: from River Plain to Open Sea, Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, 2009, pp. 100–118.
- Phạm Dức Mạnh, History of the South from the Original Advent of Civilization & Basic Material Relating to the Kingdom of Funan; Traditional Oc Eo Culture – Later Oc Eo (Research Material), Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City National University Faculty of Social Science & Literature, 2009.
- Paul Wheatley, prefatory essay in Albert Herrmann, An historical atlas of China, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1966, p.xxviii.
- Srisakra Vallibotama and Dhida Saraya, “South-East Asia from ad 300 to 700: Oc-éo”, in Sigfried J. de Laet, History of Humanity, London, New York and Paris, Routledge and Unesco, Volume III, 1996, Joachim Herrmann and Erik Zürcher (eds.), From the Seventh Century BC to the Seventh Century AD, pp. 428–29.