Jars in the Cardamom reveals a hidden people and history

Burial jars in the Cardamom Mountains. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20150112

A couple of recent features on Nancy Beavan’s work in the Cardamom Mountains in Western Cambodia (disclosure: Nancy is a personal friend of mine). Stashes of burial jars found in at least 10 sites there reveal an unknown culture who lived in the highlands and had interactions with a declining Angkorian state. [Edit: Alison pointed out that the second article is from two years ago. My apologies, although I haven’t indexed it before so am leaving it here. Thanks Alison!]

Burial jars in the Cardamom Mountains. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20150112
Burial jars in the Cardamom Mountains. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20150112

Research Uncovers Clues to Burial Jar Mystery
Cambodia Daily, 08 January 2015

Mystery in the mountains
Phnom Penh Post, 12 January 2013

On a series of rock ledges situated high in the Cardamom Mountains sit collections of earthenware jars containing human remains, the only known link to an enigmatic ancient culture that has long intrigued archaeologists.

For more than a decade, researchers have been studying ancient jar and coffin burial sites in the eastern ranges of the mountainous region that stretches across Koh Kong and Kompong Speu provinces.

Yet little is known about the society that interred its dead on these remote, exposed ledges between the 15th and 17th centuries, a practice not seen elsewhere in Cambodia. While these highland people appeared to have thrived in the late Angkorian period—during which the empire declined and fell—their unique funerary customs indicate that their culture was wholly removed from that of lowland Khmer peoples of the time, who largely favored cremation.

Full story here and here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

4 thoughts on “Jars in the Cardamom reveals a hidden people and history”

  1. Hey Noel- That PPP article you link to is actually from 2013. Is there another new article out from the PPP? I was only away of the recent piece in the Cambodia Daily.

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