Most of the information and artefacts in the Xieng Khouang Museum’s current exhibit are the results of a joint Australian/Lao research project, The Plain of Jars Archaeological Project. Dr. Dougald O’Reilly of the Australia National University, Dr. Louise Mackey of Monash University, Dr. Nigel Chang of James Cook University, and Marion Ravenscroft, an independent conservator who has worked in Laos for 30 years, generously shared information and photographs of their ground-breaking work. The research is especially important since the Plain of Jars was just enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
The giant stone jars scattered throughout Northeast Laos have remained one of the great archaeological puzzles of Southeast Asia. The Plain of Jars Archaeological Project seeks to determine the true purpose of these sites using mapping, archaeological excavation, and analysis of materials found near the massive stone jars. Different types of cutting-edge archaeological technologies, such as GPS, radiocarbon dating, DNA testing, 3-D imaging, will assist in revealing details about the purposes of these stone jars, the cultures who made them, Laos, and the world. Aerial photography with drones allows for a different perspective of the sites.
The project began with excavations at Plain of Jars Site 1 in 2016. Excavations continued at Plain of Jars Site 2 and 52. Results of the excavating at Sites 1 and 52 have been published. You can access these articles and learn more about the project at:
Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism
The Australian National University
James Cook University
The University of Otago
Adam Mickiewicz University
Funded by the Australian Research Council