The mysterious Plain of Jars in Laos intrigues and excites the imagination of not only tourists but also scientists. For several decades, researchers have assumed that the megalithic jars were part of prehistoric burial practices performed by local cultures. And local legends and traditions say that these strange stone elements were used to store food, alcohol, and rainwater.
Until recently, scientists could not determine either the age of the buildings, or their purpose, or the place of their production. The possibility of conducting research was further hampered by the fact that this area was subjected to massive bombing by the US Air Force in the 1960s, and tens of thousands of unexploded bombs still lie in the valley.
More than 50 years later, hundreds of Lao people die every year as a result of the explosion of bombs in these places. Because of this, only about 10% of the megaliths have been explored in the Plain of Jars. However, in recent years, archaeologists have begun to actively conduct expeditions within safe zones.
As a result, using an innovative method, archaeologists were able to date the giant stone megaliths for the first time.
Archaeologists finally dated the megalithic jars in the Plain of Jars
Using the method of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), scientists were able to date ancient artifacts, establishing that stone jugs probably first appeared in this area as early as the end of the second millennium BC.
In some places in the valley, human burials were discovered, which were also dated. The remains belong to people who lived in different periods of time between the 9th – 13th centuries AD. This means that the jars themselves appeared in the region long before the funeral rituals in these places.
Despite these discoveries, scientists cannot draw any conclusions from this information, because for this it is necessary to study the entire valley. Also, the question of how the pitchers ended up in their current positions remains a mystery.
The study of megaliths in one place suggests that the stone material was taken from a quarry 8 kilometers from where they are located. But how the ancient culture that created these objects managed to deliver the stone itself to the place is still unknown.
The Plain of Jars is perhaps the biggest tourist attraction in Laos apart from the Wat Pu Temple Ruins. With the unknown origins of the megalithic jars, you know there must be countless local legends that point to different origins, from ancient cultures to ancient mythical creatures.
One of the local legends tells the story of an ancient king who created the jars as storage vessels for rice wine. Another local legend, on the other hand, suggests a far more mythical version. Is there a culture or civilization around the world that did not have its own legends about giants? Such is the case with the megalithic jars in the Plain of Jars. It is said that giants once inhabited these lands and they used the jars as bowls for eating food.
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• Eurekalert. (n.d.). Researchers solve more of the mystery of Laos MEGALITHIC JARS.
• Malewar, A. (2021, March 11). The mystery of plain of Jars solved.
• Shewan, L., O’Reilly, D., Armstrong, R., Toms, P., Webb, J., Beavan, N., . . . Chang, N. (n.d.). Dating the megalithic culture OF Laos: RADIOCARBON, optically Stimulated luminescence And U/Pb ZIRCON RESULTS.
• The University of Melbourne. (2021, March 10). Researchers solve more of the mystery of Laos MEGALITHIC JARS.