A very peculiar sight is the Plain of Jars on the Xieng Khouang Plateau in north Laos. It's a large landscape in the wider mountainous surroundings of Phonsavan town, covering an area of about 5,500 km2. There are now a total of 85 registered sites where each between one up to hundreds of huge megalithic stone urns are spread irregularly, without any pattern, over the countryside. The urns or jars are hewn out of solid rock. Few of them have a simple decoration, and only one single piece shows a human figure (the anthropomorphic disc, see below). The shape at the urn's openings indicate that they had lids, and there are some few lids left. Their size varies considerably; the smallest have the size of an average dustbin, the biggest reach a height of 3 meters and weight up to 6,000kg. The Plain of Jars is one of the oldest archeological sites in Southeast Asia. And one of the most enigmatic.
A field of urns on the Plain of Jars, here site no. 1. The huge plain is widely deforestated. The trees in the background are young, fast-growing eucalyptus. Image by Asienreisender, 2006
The Plain of Jars is situated on an average altitude of 1,200m above sea level. It's therefore not so hot here as it is in lower places in Southeast Asia; in winter it can be pretty cool, also several degrees celsius below zero. The landscape, as it looks nowadays, is widely deforestated. That's, in this case, not due to the rampant logging activities in Laos, but a long-term effect of the American chemical warfare in the Vietnam War. The agent orange didn't wash completely out of the soil, because there is not as much rainfall here as it is usually in the sub-tropes.
Since years there is a pending application to make the Plain of Jars a UNESCO World Heritage.
But, what is the truly strange site about?
The Plain of Jars. Image by Asienreisender, 2006