Photojournalist Jerry Redfern recently accompanied a team of archaeologists as they excavated at the Plain of Jars in Laos. This enigmatic landscape is filled with thousands of massive stone vessels, some fashioned more than 2,500 years ago. Redfern’s video explores how the team is searching for clues about who created these mysterious jars and what they were used for. To read an in-depth feature on excavations at the Plain of Jars, go to “Letter From Laos: A Singular Landscape.”
via the Star Tribune, 01 October 2017: How a stone jar ended up in the United States during the Vietnam War.
Earlier this year, a researcher at Concordia University in St. Paul was combing through declassified CIA records and discovered an intriguing stone legacy of the Vietnam War.
At the height of the conflict, CIA Director Richard Helms received a gift from Gen. Vang Pao, leader of the Hmong forces fighting the CIA-led “secret war” in Laos.
It was a massive, ancient sandstone jar, one of hundreds that jut from the ground of the legendary Plain of Jars in northern Laos. At that time, Vang Pao’s army was fighting a bloody battle with the North Vietnamese on the plain, with U.S. bombers pounding the terrain and thousands of Laotians on the run.
Exciting new research coming out of our colleagues from Laos and Australia: preliminary research from the Plain of Jars have uncovered burials – both primary and secondary – found in association with the massive stone jars.
Plain of Jar excavations. Source: AFP, via Bangkok Post 20160404
One of Asia’s most mysterious archaeological sites, the Plain of Jars in Laos, was used as an ancient burial ground, Australian researchers say.
The Plain of Jars in central Laos is made up of 90 sites, each containing ancient carved stone jars up to three metres tall.
Today the Australian National University (ANU) announced a team from the School of Archaeology and Anthropology had discovered human remains estimated to be 2,500 years old, shedding light on the use of the sites and jars which had been previously unknown.
In September I was in Laos and I had the opportunity to visit the Plain of Jars, or at least, a few of the jar sites that dot central Laos around Xieng Khouang province. There are over 2,000 jars spread out in over 100 sites. Not all of them are accessible, because of the presence of UXOs, and several have been destroyed due to war and development.
Aerial view of the Plain of Jars Site 1
The megalithic jars are somewhat unique in Southeast Asia – less known, but distinctively peculiar and in need of further study. They are associated with burials, and the jars themselves display a large variability in forms and sizes and distribution. Despite the rainy weather, I was fortunate to be able to take the UAV out for a spin over various sites:
The mysterious plain of jars in Northeastern Laos is still one of the biggest uninvestigated archaeological sites in Southeast Asia – largely uninvestigated because of the huge amount of cluster bombs dropped there by US forces 40 years ago. From what little that has been investigated, it seems that the jars were places of transition in the funerary rite where bodies were left to decompose before going through a final burial. The UNESCO-Lao project in Bangkok is aiming to nominate the plain as a World Heritage Site in 2011, but this is dependent on the amount of research to be done and the clearing of unexploded ordanance.
Jars of wonder, jars of hope
The Star, 07 Dec 2008 Read More
Jim visits the lesser-known Angkor temple at Koh Ker.
In this series of weekly rojaks (published on Wednesdays) Iâ€™ll feature other sites in the blogosphere that are related to Southeast Asia and archaeology in general. Got a recommendation for the next Wednesday rojak? Email me!
In this series of weekly rojaks (published on Wednesdays) Iâ€™ll feature other sites in the blogosphere that are of related to archaeology in Southeast Asia. Got a recommendation for the next Wednesday rojak? Email me!
Also, do drop by the SEAArch bookstore for a selection of books related to the archaeology of Southeast Asia!