Laos Jars are Slowly Revealing their Secrets

In the rugged province of Xieng Khoaung in upper northern Laos are scattered more than 2,000 large carved stone jars. They vary in size, with the biggest standing at just over 2.5 metres tall and weighing in at 30 tonnes. The jars are believed to have been used for funerary purposes, with human remains (including teeth) found buried around some of the jars.

Our Lao-Australian archaeological research team has been working to unlock some of the secrets of the Laos jar sites since 2016.

2020 was our fourth field season and the team headed back to Laos with a mission to complete survey expeditions in some of the less-frequented regions of northern Laos, and excavate at a location at Site 1 (known as Ban Hai Hin) – the most visited of the 11 UNESCO World Heritage listed jar sites.

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Dr Louise Shewan, University of Melbourne; Dr Dougald O’Reilly, ANU and Dr Thonglith Luangkhoth