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13 December 2009
The mysterious Plain of Jars

In the northeastern province of Xiang Khouang (Lao People's Democratic Republic).
there is a plateau scattered with ancient stone jars. Know as the Plain of Jars, this site is famous for huge stone vessels, ranging in height from 1.5 to three metres, whose original purpose remains a mystery to this day.
     According to one local legend these enormous receptacles were hollowed from blocks of stone in order to ferment an alcoholic concoction for consumption at the mass celebration of a great military victory thousands of years ago. Archaeologists have come up with a more sober theory - but no supporting evidence, alas - to the effect that the jars are actually coffins, perhaps as much as 2,000 years old. Which would make them one of the oldest archeological finds in Southeast Asia.
     Some seven kilometres from Phonsavan, the provincial capital, lies the principal jar site. Known as Ban Ang or sometimes simply as Site No. 1, it contains more than 300 of these gargantuan vessels. The other two main sites are only a few kilometres away. Unfortunately, roaming at will around the Plain of Jars is not recommended. That's because of the high number of bombs from the Vietnam war that failed to detonate and are still active and highly dangerous. Forgotten for many decades amid the chaos and conflict which swept this remote corner of Laos, Xiang Khouang is today welcoming tourists back to view its unique mix of natural and man-made wonders.

Source: Bangkok Post (10 December 2009)

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