New analysis performed on the UNESCO World Heritage listed ‘Plain of Jars’ in Laos has established the stone jars have been possible positioned of their remaining resting place from as early as 1240 to 660 BCE.
Sediment samples from beneath stone jars from two of the greater than 120 recorded megalithic websites have been obtained by a staff led Dr Louise Shewan from the College of Melbourne, Affiliate Professor Dougald O’Reilly from the Australian Nationwide College (ANU) and Dr Thonglith Luangkoth from the Lao Division of Heritage.
The samples have been analysed utilizing a method known as Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) to find out when sediment grains have been final uncovered to daylight.
“With these new information and radiocarbon dates obtained for skeletal materials and charcoal from different burial contexts, we now know that these websites have maintained enduring ritual significance from the interval of their preliminary jar placement into historic instances,” Dr Shewan stated.
The megalithic jar websites in Northern Laos comprise one to three-metre-tall carved stone jars, weighing as much as 20 tonnes, dotted throughout the panorama, showing alone or in teams of as much as a number of hundred.
Dr Shewan and her staff accomplished their most up-to-date excavations in March 2020, revisiting Website 1 (Ban Hai Hin), and arriving again in Australia simply earlier than international pandemic worldwide boarder closures.
Website 1 revealed extra burials positioned across the jars and confirmed earlier observations that the unique boulders distributed throughout the location are markers for ceramic burial jars buried beneath.
Printed immediately in PLOS One, Dr Shewan and collaborators current new radiocarbon outcomes for website use and likewise introduce geochronological information figuring out the possible quarry supply for one of many largest megalithic websites.
Whereas geologists have used detrital zircon U-Pb courting for a number of many years, this technique has lately been used to determine the provenance of ceramic and stone sources in archaeological contexts together with Stonehenge.
Carried out at ANU by Affiliate Professor Richard Armstrong, the U-Pb zircon ages measured in jar samples from Website 1 have been in comparison with potential supply materials, together with a sandstone outcrop and an incomplete jar from a presumed quarry positioned some 8km away. The zircon age distributions revealed very related provenance suggesting that this outcrop was the possible supply of the fabric used for the creation of jars on the website.
“How the jars have been moved from the quarry to the location, nonetheless, stays a thriller,” Affiliate Professor O’Reilly stated.
The subsequent problem for the researchers is to acquire additional samples from different websites and from throughout the geographic expanse of this megalithic tradition to grasp extra about these enigmatic websites and the interval over which they have been created.
Dr Shewan stated this isn’t an particularly simple activity given the intensive unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination within the area the place lower than 10 per cent of the identified jar websites have been cleared.
“We count on that this complicated course of will finally assist us share extra insights into what’s one in all Southeast Asia’s most mysterious archaeological cultures.”
The complete staff of researchers consists of La Trobe College, James Cook dinner College, College of Gloucestershire and worldwide collaborators from Laos, New Zealand and Hong Kong.