Phonsavan is the present capital of the Xiangkhouang province in Laos. The area around Phonsavan was heavily bombed during the Việt Nam War by the USA. It suffers greatly from Unexploded Ordnance (UXO). The biggest attraction in Phonsavan is the Plain of Jars.

The Plain of Jars is a megalithic archaeological landscape near Phonsavan. More than 90 jar sites have been identified in the province of Xieng Khouang. Each site has from one to 400 stone jars. Most sites are not accessible to the public, many because of the danger of UXOs. So far only seven sites have been cleared of UXOs.

The jars vary in height and diameter between 1 m (3 ft) and 3 m (10 ft) and are all carved from rock. Their shape is cylindrical with the bottom always wider than the top. The stone jars are undecorated, with the exception of a single jar at Site 1. Since most of the jars have lip rims, it is thought that the jars originally supported lids, although few stone lids have been recorded; this may suggest that the bulk of lids were fashioned from perishable materials.

It is not quite clear what the jars were used for. Most likely they were involved in some burial rites.

The jars date to between 500 BCE to 500 CE. The Plain of Jars is one of the most important prehistoric sites in Southeast Asia.

The Plain of Jars with its mysterious stone jars is another example of the many sites of Ancient Civilizations that I visited during my travels.

The Plain of Jars is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2019.

All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.

Muang Khoun

Muang Khoun was the ancient capital of the region. It was heavily bombed during the American bombardment of Laos and abandoned as capital. Only very few remains are left. The present capital is Phonsavan.

Remnants Buddhist Temple Muang
Remnants of a Buddhist temple in Muang Khoun. (927k)
New Temple
The new temple. (791k)
Remnants French Hospital Muang
Remnants of the French hospital in Muang Khoun. (1087k)

Silk Production Cooperative

The silk manufacturing cooperative that I visited is run by local people. They grow the silk worms, produce silk, weave silk cloth and make some simple items with the silk cloth. They also sell mulberry tea. The mulberry trees are pruned twice per year. The ones that I saw were 20 years old.

Mulberry Trees Leaves Trees
Mulberry trees. The leaves from these trees are the only food for the silkworms accept. (1127k)
Silkworms. (991k)
Extracting Silk Thread Cocoons
Extracting the silk thread from the cocoons. (660k)
Collecting Silk Threads Frame
Collecting the silk threads on a frame. (833k)
Natural Colors Various Plants
Natural colors from various plants, animals, and minerals. (913k)
Dying Silk Threads
Dying the silk threads. (696k)
Dyed Silk Threads
Dyed silk threads. (828k)
Loom. (806k)
Loom. (785k)
Lunch Time Field Workers
Lunch time. One of the field workers is skinning a few rats for lunch. (1351k)

Plain of Jars

View Site 1 Plain
View of Site 1 of the Plain of Jars. (1010k)
View Over Site 1
View over Site 1 of the Plain of Jars. (1221k)
Jars Site 1 Largest
Jars of Site 1, with the largest jar of the Plain of Jars in the center. (1036k)
Close-up Jar Showing Lip
Close-up of a jar, showing the lip that suggests it used to have a lid. (1158k)
Few Stone Lids Plane
One of the few stone lids in the Plane of Jars. (1365k)
Only Jar Decoration "frogman"
The only jar with a decoration, a "frogman" figure. (1359k)
Limestone Cave Site 1
Limestone cave on Site 1 of the Plain of Jars. It has two man-made holes in the ceiling, suggesting use for fires for cremation. (868k)

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Page last updated on Sat Mar 21 12:08:06 2020 (Mountain Standard Time)

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