via World Archaeology, 23 July 2020: An excerpt from a longer story in Current World Archaeology on the research at the Plain of Jars, featuring the most recent work by the team from the Australian National University.
In 2016, an international Lao–Australian team conducted excavation and survey at Ban Hai Hin (Site 1), creating a detailed inventory of the stone jars, burial-marker boulders, and sandstone discs. Each megalith was accurately geolocated, while their appearance and state of preservation were carefully registered to aid ongoing conservation measures. Site 1 is dominated by a limestone cave that Colani suggested functioned as a crematorium. The mouth of the cave faces over 316 stone jars, arranged in five groups. A small hill to the north is home to the largest and most-impressive jars, which are known as Group 1. The most-numerous set (Group 2) lies at a lower elevation, and was arranged in a crescent in front of the cave mouth. Three smaller groups of jars to the south make up the remainder of the site, bringing it to nearly 30ha in extent. Interspersed among the jars were more than 20 sandstone discs. Although these are often thought to be the jar lids, this interpretation is questionable, as there are many more jars than discs, and the discs have also been found to mark burial places. In addition, there were 308 boulders that are natural, but exotic – meaning they do not naturally occur at the site – all of which were captured with drone-acquired imagery. As noted, the boulders appear to be tombstones of sorts, heralding the position of buried ceramic funerary jars.