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And now for something much farther afield

Photo by Jakub Hałun. I’ve cropped it and made it monochrome.

Behold, the Plain of Jars! It’s in Laos. They’ve found a bunch more in the jungle.

These things are seriously large – like, ten feet tall – and they know eff-all about the people who made them. The speculation is that these jars were used as part of funerary practices – to allow bodies to be picked clean before burial as bones. But why would they need so many? Did everyone have a family corpse jar?

They’ve found some more conventional burials (conventional for us, anyway) nearby that they can date to 2,500 years ago. They have no idea if the burial people had any relationship to the jar people. The burials were often capped with a round stone elaborately carved on the underside.

The idea of re-using other people’s sacred spaces is something that came up in that day-long course on West Yorkshire burial mounds. There was one mound in particular that started as a pit, with very old bones at the bottom (which showed signs of cannibalism). A couple more later burials higher up in the pit. When it was level with the ground, there were several more burials that had earth over them, so it began to become a mound. I believe there were a few cremation urns in there, which is late mesolithic. The mound kept growing until it finally assumed the shape we see today. The last burials were Anglo-Saxon, which is thousands of years more recent (and a whole ‘nother people).

Speculation is that the original pit must have been covered with a marker of some kind so they could find it again.

If you find the Plain of Jars at all interesting, I recommend hitting the link and then following the other links embedded in the article. They leads to lots more pictures and data.

Speaking of prehistory, a reminder that the two-day conference on Doggerland is coming up Thursday and Friday. I shall have my nose in a Zoom all day, but I’ll let you know if anything interesting turns up.


Comment from durnedyankee
Time: May 6, 2021, 11:29 am

“Now why do you want to be a witchdoctor!
Family business not good enough for the likes of you eh?
We’ve been burial jar makers for over 300 years boy!
Honorable profession!
It’s that U-manda you’ve been seeing, fillin your head with nonsense about how great her da is!
Witch doctors, PAH!
We all end up in the jars boy! Witchdoctor or no!”

Comment from M
Time: May 6, 2021, 3:24 pm

I’d seen these before and thought their use was making something like ancient kimchi, fermented veg. I see the locals thought they were for the gods to make rice wine. Maybe they weren’t originally intended to be burial jars and were repurposed at a later date?

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: May 6, 2021, 3:39 pm

Live Science article:

The carved stone jars are scattered across miles of the rugged, tiger-haunted Xiangkhouang province…

Cat toys.

Comment from Drew458
Time: May 6, 2021, 6:04 pm

I think I read somewhere that this area is also chock full of unexploded mines and mortar shells from the war.

I read about the Plain of Jars every few months on that “woo” site you mentioned a few weeks back.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: May 6, 2021, 9:50 pm

Didn’t they get rid of all those unexploded ordnance thingies by letting Mad Cows roam through the areas?

Causing that famous MadCow Palindrome:


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