Scientists Closer to Solving Plain of Jars Mystery
A new group of human remains has been uncovered on the Plain of Jars in Laos. They are believed to date back to the Iron Age, some 2,500 years ago.
The Plain of Jars is in the central Lao province of Xieng Khouang. The area covers hundreds of kilometers in which can be found thousands of ancient stone jars. They are grouped together at about 100 sites.
The Plain of Jars has been a puzzle to archaeologists—scientists who study prehistoric people and their culture.
A joint research team from Australia and Laos found the remains.
Dougald O'Reilly teaches archaeology at Australian National University. He led the field work in Laos.
"This is one of the great enigmas of the Jars' sites," he said. "These massive stone jars – some of them weighing up to 10 metric tons, that have been dragged eight to 10 kilometers from a quarry site and set up in groups."
Little is known about the people who made the jars. What did the jars hold? How and why did people place them where they did?
O'Reilly said a central question that needs to be answered is who created the stone jars. There are no known sites offering answers to the ethnicity and identity of the people who made them.
The latest field work uncovered an ancient burial ground in an area known as Site 1, in Xieng Khouang Province. It has more than 300 stone jars, stone discs and markers.
The scientists uncovered different burial methods. They include burial of whole bodies, the burying of bones grouped together, and bones placed inside ceramic vessels and then buried.
Louise Shewan of Monash University in Australia led one of the teams involved in the field work. Archaeologist Thonglith Luangkhoth, of the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, also led a research team.
Thonglith told Lao media the newly uncovered remains were found about eight kilometers from the center of Phonsavanh district.
"This discovery marks a significant milestone since archaeological excavations began in the area in the 1930s in collaboration with a French archaeologist," he said.
Dougald O'Reilly said the researchers hope to get really good information from the find.
"With our research, because we've been able to uncover a fair amount of human bone – we've got seven burials and four probable burials with ceramic jars – so a total of 11 mortuary contexts."
He said they are excited to have the opportunity to work at one of South East Asia's more important—and probably least understood archaeological sites.
Scientists will do isotopic and chemical tests on the remains. They may provide information on the ethnicity of the people connected to the sites.
O'Reilly said it is possible that the Lao sites may be linked to similar jar sites in India.
The Australian Research Council is paying for the project. It will continue over five years with field work in Laos and some in northeastern India as well.
The effort may soon provide answers to one of Southeast Asia's greatest cultural mysteries.
I'm Anne Ball.
1.close to 接近；靠近
All feel close to the top because they are close to the top.
2.a group of 一组的；一对的
A group of children are playing games on the playground.
3.date back to 追溯到
The earliest Chinese coin can date back to thousands years ago.
4.field work 实地考察；农活
During busy seasons they help with field work.
1.Louise Shewan of Monash University in Australia led one of the teams involved in the field work.
involved in 卷入
He is involved in gambling and prostitution rackets.
He never gets involved in unprincipled disputes.
2.The Australian Research Council is paying for the project.
paying for 为...买单；付出...代价
He is paying for his new car in twelve monthly instalments.
We're paying for the 'telly' by monthly instalments.
老挝石缸平原新出土了一组人类遗骸 。这些遗骸可能来自于2500年前的铁器时代 。
石缸平原位于老挝中部的川圹省 。平原绵延数百公里，那里遍布着数以千计的古石缸 。石缸遗址加起来约100处 。
杜格尔德·欧莱利是澳大利亚国立大学的考古教授 。他主导了这次老挝的考古工作 。
他说，“这次发现的遗址解开了石缸平原多年的谜团 。“这些石缸体积很大，有些重达10吨，已经将这些石缸从采石场搬到了8-10公里外的地方，并且做了分类整理 。”
欧莱利称，究竟是谁建造了石缸是目前需要解决的首要问题 。但目前尚未发现有利于调查石缸主人的种族或身份问题的遗址 。
近期考古者在川圹省1号遗址发现了古代墓地 。墓地里分布着300多个石缸、石盘以及一些标记符号 。
科学家还发现了不同的埋葬方式 。有的是埋葬整个躯体，有的是将骨头归类后埋葬，而有的将骨头置于陶瓷容器后埋葬 。澳大利亚莫纳什大学的路易斯·谢瓦担任此次实地考察工作小组的负责人之一 。
考古学家通立·銮科斯在老挝新闻部及文化旅游部工作，他也带领了一个研究小组 。銮科斯告知老挝媒体，人类残骸是在距离丰沙湾区8公里以外的地方发现的 。
科学家们将对残骸物进行同位素测试及化学测验 。残骸可能会告诉我们一些与遗址有关的种族地位等信息 。
澳大利亚研究委员会为该项目研究提供资金支持 。项目研究周期或超过五年，还会在老挝和印度东北部进行实地考察工作 。