Archaeology & History
Infant remains found in Laos' 'Plain of Jars'
By T.K. Randall
August 13, 2019 · 1 comment
The jars are thought to number in the thousands. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Christopher Voitus
A recent excavation of an area containing 400 jars has revealed an unexpectedly high rate of child mortality.
Found throughout the central plain of Xiangkhoang Plateau in Laos, these mysterious stone jars have remained something of an archaeological enigma since their discovery back in the 19th century.
Surprisingly little is known about the ancient people who built the jars, however researchers generally agree that the stone vessels were associated with prehistoric burial practices.
Given the craftsmanship exhibited in the construction of the jars and the sheer number of them scattered across the region, the investment in time and resources must have been staggering.
One recent study, which focused on an excavation site at Bang Ang, highlighted the discovery of a surprising number of infant remains inside the jars, indicating a high rate of child mortality.
This, coupled with evidence of a disorder known as dental enamel hypoplasia, suggested that an extended period of disease and malnutrition may have been to blame.
"From our excavations at Site 1, we have identified three types of mortuary ritual practice: secondary burial of human bone, secondary burial of human remains in buried ceramic jars and, for the first time, a primary burial of two individuals," said study author Louise Shewan.
"Site 1 is of major ritual significance and has been for a very long time. We, however, know very little about the culture that created the jars and this is one of our main research interests."
Source: IFL Science
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