16. The plain of jars
Travel to a remote corner of Laos and you’ll stumble across a range of fields covered in ancient stone jars. But as to who put them there, around 2,500 years ago, and why, no one is quite sure.
These stone urns date back to the Iron Age and are scattered about, seemingly randomly, over hundreds of square kilometres. They’re randomly different in size, too, with some measuring an astounding 3 metres tall by a metre wide and weighing more than a few tonnes.
The area is rich in historic finds including human bones and stone lids. But why the stone jars? And by whom? Some archaeologists think that it’s a prehistoric burial site of a long forgotten tribe. Others think the urns could be part of a funeral rite and were used to decompose bodies.
But locals have their own theories ranging from potent rice wine vessels to celebrate mythical giants to whiskey jars for giants to drink from.
Either way, like the mysteries surrounding many megaliths, how on earth did these enormously heavy jars get there? Maybe those giants weren’t so mythical after all?