Hạ Long Bay, an ancient cradle of mankind

Next year, Việt Nam will celebrate National Tourism Year in Quảng Ninh. John Ball traces the origin of the province’s world famous Hạ Long Bay to a vast plain that embraced Việt Nam and Cambodia and spread all the way, like a giant tongue, down to the tip of Java. This land mass was known as Sundaland. Until five or six thousand years ago, the Red River flowed through Hạ Long Bay, which was then dry land, and down through a vast fertile plain that ended near the tip of what is now Hainan Island. Most of this plain is now buried under the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. In those ancient times, the river flowed into a sea that was about 120 metres below its present level, like most seas and oceans around the world. However, as the earth began warming 27,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age, seas around the world began rising gradually until they reached their present levels about 5,000 years ago.  The inundation, part of a world event referred to in ancient Mesopotamian texts and the Bible, swamped a vast area of coastline around the world, particularly in South-east Asia and Australia to the South. This gave birth to oral histories still repeated by native people in Australia and New Guinea – and by all ethnic groups throughout Việt Nam. An article on the subject by the late ethnologist Đặng Nghiêm Vạn, The Flood Myth and Origin of Ethnic Groups…

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