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!]
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.