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When it comes to archaeological mysteries in Southeast Asia, the Plain of Jars is right up there on the list. (err, no… the human legs sticking out not included)

The Star, 12 January 2008

Plain baffling
The Star, 12 January 2008


Landlocked Laos is, on a whole, archaeologically baffling and not much research of that sort has been done in the country. The plain – or rather plains, for there are about 15 of them – are strewn all over Laos and jars are no ordinary jam jars either.

The jars are made of solid stone boulders, some from granite, but most from a material similar to sandstone. Recently, researchers have found quarries (actually boulder fields) they think the stone for the jars originated from, for the site contains half-finished jars. This place is west of Muang Sui.

The jars are angular or round and can weigh up to 13 metric tons and range from 1m-3m in height. They are thought to be 1,500-2,000 years old. Some of the excavated material has been dated to around 500BC-800AD.

The date of the finds put the jars into late Iron age to rise of the early states period of Southeast Asian archaeology. But still, there hasn’t been any satisfactory explanations for the jars themselves – they’ve been theorised to be mortuary urns and commemoratory megaliths, while some local legends describe them as repositories for rice wine!

It’s still an archaeological mystery waiting to be solved – but for now, you can read more about the plain of jars here.

Related items:
Global Treasures PLAIN OF JARS Laos
– Plain of Jars, Laos World Culture Photographic Poster Print by Keren Su, 16×12

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