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Plain of Jars

\The Plain of Jars is a historic cultural site in Laos containing thousands of jars, ranging from three feet to 10 feet in height, which lie scattered throughout the Xieng Khouang plain in the Laotian Highlands at the northern end of the Annamese Cordillera, the principal mountain range of Indo-China. It lies at the center of the former Hmong kingdom, which was conquered by the Vietnamese in 1832. The town was utterly destroyed during the fighting between the Pathet Lao and American-backed troops during the Vietnam War. The jars, which can weigh up to six tons and are carved from giant pieces of imported sedimentary rock, are believed to have been used 1500 to 2000 years ago, in burial practices of an ancient South Asian people whose culture is now totally unknown.

Initially discovered by a French archeologist, Madeleine Colani of the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient in the 1930s, the jars now lie amidst thousands of bombs left behind by America's secret war in Laos in the 1960s. The Laotian caretakers of the Plain of Jars are currently applying for status as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Though the beads, bronzes and other artifacts that Colani discovered, which led her to believe that the jars were funerary urns, have all since been dispersed, her archaeological reports remain.

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