The Plain of Jars - History and Facts | History Hit

The Plain of Jars

Alex Spencer

29 Dec 2021

About The Plain of Jars

The Plain of Jars is an archaeological site in Laos. Specifically, it is located at Phonsavanh, which is in the Louangphrabang Province. The area itself is a mountainous region of 16 square km.

It has the name the Plain of Jars, as it is home to over 90 sites containing stone jars. Each site has between 1 to 400 of these stone jars. It was first discovered in the 1930s when scholars from Laos were conducting research in the area.

The Plain of Jars history

The research suggests that the area has been occupied from around 500 BC to 500 AD. This period is known as the Iron Age of Southeast Asia. The archaeological evidence suggests that the site was used for ritual purposes during these centuries, by not just one, but many different societies and civilizations.

The stone Jars were used for the mortuary practices of burying the dead. Archaeologists have discovered 31 different types of jar designs, made mainly from sandstone. Some Plain of Jars jars are decorated with rock painting that provide archaeologists with information regarding funerary practices. For example, one type of Plain Of Jars jar called a ‘Ting’ jar is decorated with a zigzag motif that was meant to mimic the cords used to tie bamboo.

The Plain of Jars today

Plain of Jars was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative list in 2011. It is included under the name “The Complex of Iron Age Tombs and Relics in Thaphabat, Phonsavanh district – Plaines des jarres en Basse-Louange (UNESCO, 2011)”.

Located on the site is also the Plain of Jars Museum in Phonsavanh, Laos. There are many Plain of Jars tours available for travellers interested in learning more about the Plain’s ancient history.