The Government's support for archeological work is inadequate at present, posing the danger of the nation losing precious vestiges of its cultural heritage, experts say.

They say that the discovery and protection of ancient artifacts and other vestiges is of vital importance in preserving and developing Vietnamese culture.

However, they lament that even after the strengthened Cultural Heritage Law was passed in 2010, regulations for developing and supporting the work of archaeologists are still unclear.

They note that some provinces and cities have been motivated by a project to improve heritage protection and urban development that was implemented in 2011 by the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology (IA) and Khanh Hoa Province to develop their own archeological projects, despite difficulties.

For instance, Hanoi , HCM City , Bac Ninh, Quang Ninh and Ba Ria-Vung Tau are working to invest both money and people for projects to map their archaeological sites.

But, many experts are not optimistic about the progress of these projects.

Tong Trung Tin, director of IA, said that although Khanh Hoa had completed its work, final approval for the project had been withheld without reason by agencies under the culture ministry.

Under current laws, all construction projects need to be checked by authorised agencies after they are completed, to make sure that they meet all requirements mentioned in their licences.

He continued: "Ten years ago, the IA researched and projected archaeological sites in four districts of Hanoi . However, the institute's work did not receive any follow-up response from the city's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism."

Without the Government's assistance, archaeologists say they cannot develop their science, as it requires modern facilities and regular updating of professional skills.

A survey by the IA showed that around 90 percent of archaeological sites related to the Iron Age in the country, including 2000-year old tombs in Hai Phong City 's Thuy Nguyen District, were damaged and destroyed because local authorities did not pay enough attention on preservation work.

"We face many problems," Tin said. "Although we are willing to excavate archaeological sites, we are still concerned about the cultural authorities' assessment, management and preservation efforts."

A couple of years ago, Tin's staff investigated an area with ancient tombs located in Thuy Son Commune, Hai Phong City, and made recommendations to local authorities, but the area was destroyed later.

"Based on the law, local authorities are responsible for making plans to preserve archaeological sites. But making them realise the importance of this task and take action is very difficult" Tin said.

The IA was established in 1968 under the auspices of the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences.-VNA