Plain of Jars located near the Xieng Khouang Plateau in Laos

Plain of Jars located near the Xieng Khouang Plateau in Laos

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Mystery Type: Site
Mystery Name: Plain of Jars located near the Xieng Khouang Plateau in Laos
Latitude: 19.431019
Longitude: 103.152229
Country: Laos
Place Name: Xieng Khouang Plateau, Laos
Approved: Yes

In the landlocked Southeast Asian nation of Laos, thousands of massive stone jars dot the Xieng Khouang Plateau. Scattered across 2,100 square miles of steep slopes, grassy fields, and forested foothills, these ancient megaliths create an archaeological landscape known as the Plain of Jars. The jars, more than 2,000 in all, are distributed across at least 80 sites—some with just a few, others with nearly 400. Most jars sit on mountain slopes, and the largest, which can be as much as nine feet tall and six feet in diameter, are found in highland locations above 3,600 feet. The majority are carved from sandstone, and geologists estimate the heaviest weigh 25 tons or more. One of the biggest assemblages is found at a location called Site 1, where 344 jars sit in wide-open spaces on the windswept plains outside the town of Phonsavanh, the capital of Xieng Khouang Province.

Intriguingly, almost nothing is known about the people who created the jars 1,500–2,500 years ago. They left no written texts, inscriptions, domestic structures, or habitation sites. Few excavations have been conducted, and not many bodily remains have been found, compounding uncertainty about their identity, beliefs, and practices. -Text by Karen Coates

Lao legends tell of a race of giants who inhabited the area and who were ruled by a king, named Khun Cheung, who fought a long and ultimately victorious battle against an enemy. He supposedly created the jars to brew and store huge amounts of lau hai (“lau” means “alcohol”, “hai” means “jar”—So “lau hai” means rice beer or rice wine in the jars) to celebrate his victory. Another local story states that the jars were molded from natural materials including clay, sand, sugar, and animal products in a type of stone mix. This led the locals to believe the cave at Site 1 was actually a kiln, and that the jars were fired there and are not actually hewn from stone.

Unsolved Mysteries:
Who built it?, For what purpose has it been built?, To which other mysteries is it related to?
Proven Facts: Massive Stone Vessels and Jars
Type: Megalithic
Culture: Unkown
Age Dating: > 500 BC
Discovery Date:
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This mystery has been reported by Jahkri on 02/22/2017

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