Often referred to as a south-east Asian version of Stonehenge, the Plain of Jars is one of the most enigmatic sights on Earth. Ever since its discovery in the 1930s, this place has fascinated archaeologists and scientists.
The Plain of Jars is an archaeological landscape in Laos. Scattered in the landscape of the Xieng Khouang plateau, at about 1,000 meters above sea level, are thousands of megalithic jars each about 3 meters tall and weighing several tons.
Often made of sandstone, but also of harder granite and limestone. More than 90 sites like this are known within this province.
The stone jars are plain with the exception of a single jar. This jar has a human bas-relief carved on the exterior. The paintings, which depict large full-frontal humans with arms raised and knees bent, are dated to 500 BC – 200 AD.
So far, archaeologist Julie Van Den Bergh, has counted over 3,000 jars. But since the town of Xieng Khouang was totally destroyed during the Vietnam War, many important information was lost and it is still dangerous today to walk around that region due to many mines from the war.
The last remains of an ancient civilization are often close to craters and unexploded US ordnance.
Excavation by Lao and Japanese archaeologists has supported the conclusion that these were funeral megaliths, with the discovery of human remains, burial goods and ceramics found in association with the stone jars. But local legends support other versions.
According to local legend, the jars were created by a race of giants, whose king needed somewhere to store his rice wine.
The wine was to be consumed at a great feast to celebrate a military victory thousands of years ago.
Legend tells of an evil king, named Chao Angka, who oppressed his people so terribly that they appealed to a good king of the north, named Khun Jeuam, to liberate them. Khun Jeuam and his army came, and after waging a great battle on the plain, defeated Chao Angka.
Who were these giants? Could this legend have some truth in it?
Archaeologists still don’t have the answer, but maybe after the terrain is cleared from the unexploded bombs, they can finally study them more carefully, and perhaps discover the truth.