The Mysterious Plain of Jars

The Mysterious Plain of Jars


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So far, archaeologist Julie Van Den Bergh – who works for UNESCO – has counted over 3,000 jars scattered across 90 sites in Xieng Khouang province and until further survey is possible there is no absolute count. Each jar is up to 3 metres tall and weighs several tons, often made of sandstone, but also of harder granite and limestone. She works with mine clearance teams set up by Manchester-based Mines Advisory Group (Mag) who launched a project to make the area safe, in one of the most dangerous archaeological sites in the world. The last remains of an ancient civilisation are often close to craters and unexploded US ordnance.

In this unusual collaboration, UNESCO archaeologists work alongside the clearance team and at one site they were able to recover 87 bags of artefacts, including pottery, bone fragments and charcoal.

Julie van den Bergh, said: “We were very excited about finding charcoal as it can be dated and hopefully provide us with a more precise date for the Plain of Jars."

Because the jars have lip rims, it is presumed that all of them were originally covered with lids and although a few stone lids have been recorded it is more likely that the main material used was wood or rattan. Stone lids with animal representations have been noticed at few sites such as Ban Phake.

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