See the enigmatic site that has baffled archeologists for centuries.

December 26, 2015

The enigmatic Plain of Jars in Laos is not easy to explore. The site of the mysterious, ancient field of giant pots lies about 250 miles northeast of the Lao capital, Vientiane. Those who do make the trek are treated to a bewildering display of thousands of stone urns that date back to the Iron Age, spread over miles-long fields in the mountains surrounding the small town of Phonsavan.

The urns can be enormous, reaching up to ten feet tall and three feet wide, and weighing several tons, and are sometimes accompanied by circular stone discs that are thought to be lids. According to UNESCO, they “are also sometimes carved with representations of humans, tigers or monkeys.”

The purpose of the massive jars remains a mystery yet to be cracked by archaeologists. Due to the discovery of ancient bones in the area, some believe the urns might have been part of a cemetery of sorts. Local legends claim that the pots were made to brew enough rice wine for a party after the residents were liberated from cruel overlords back in the 6th century. Another local legend claims that “a tribe of giants used them as wine chalices to celebrate a great victory.” In short, 2,500 years after they were made, the jars are a complete mystery.

Those intrepid travelers who do make the trek will find that only a handful of the 90 or so sites where jars have been discovered are open to visitors. According to the BBC, this is partially to protect the jars and also due to the fact that the area was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War and some of those bombs have never been detonated.

Luckily, modern technology means curious minds can explore the mysterious jars from a safe distance. A new video of the site was taken by a drone and uploaded to YouTube by user Seaarch, who flew “over Sites 1, 2 and 3, and the quarry site of Phu Keng around the vicinity of Phonsavan,” according to the video description, adding, “UAVs like these will play an important role for safely surveying areas that have not been cleared of explosives yet.” It also lets future travelers know what to add to their bucket lists. 

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