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24 January 2010
Prehistoric burial customs uncovered in Laos

The discovery of Iron Age human bone fragments in Laos has shed new light on the region's prehistoric burial customs. A team of Lao and foreign archeologists found the fragments last week in a burial ground believed to be about 2,000 years old when South-East Asia was in the Iron Age. The discovery was made during a dig known as the Middle Mekong Archaeological Project, which is a joint effort between Laos' Department of Heritage and the University of Pennsylvania Museum (USA).
     "Last week, we unexpectedly found two skulls and a fragment of a third, a baby, along with some body bones," said Joyce White, associate curator at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. "It is quite a significant discovery of Lao archaeology." Also among the items found was a burial pot containing human bones, which was the first such example of a secondary burial, or the custom of dismembering a corpse and removing all flesh so the bones could be placed in a container. Although the practice was common in neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, this was the first evidence of a secondary burial in what is now Laos.

Source: Earth Times (22 January 2010)

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