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  Mike's first article publisher in THE TOWN CRIER No. 57 July/August 2004, Plain of Jars

Northern Laos.
The Mysterious Plain of Jars.

Located near the town of Ponsavan are fields that contain literally hundreds of stone jars. These huge jars weigh anything from about 600kg. The largest weighs approximately 6 tonnes.

These incredible jars are about 2,000 years old and it is not exactly known why they are all in this location and what exactly they were used for. Scholars have suggested that they may have been used for the storage of rice or even rice wine. They may have even been a type of coffin. No one knows for sure.

With over 2,000 jars to be seen and many more waiting to be discovered, there are many sites to go and see the jars. I visited the three main sites, which are most accessible by road from Ponsavan. Walking round these sites is truly amazing and really gets your mind thinking. It’s an out of this world experience, comparable only to the ancient temple sites at Angkor in Cambodia, featured in the September 2003 issue of the Town Crier magazine. Although a good jars many have been damaged by bomb blasts during the Vietnam War, there are many fine examples still with their lids.

The jars are fashioned from limestone and granite. Carving out these jars from boulders must have been a painstaking task. I remember, as an ex tin miner working underground for about 5 years of my life, that we had the luxury of compressed air drills to make the holes before charging them with dynamite to access the granite. Before the advent of compressed air drill, these ancient Laotians would have used a similar method, but would have made the holes by using a bar struck by a hammer. It must have taken such a long time to fashion the jars, how did they cope?

I’ve been thinking about one thing. Although no one knows for sure what these jars were used for. Had they stored honey, Winnie the Pooh would have had a field day!

Enjoy your trip to the Plain of Jars.

All images and text copyright © Mike Abbott 2011. All rights reserved.