Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Jars vs. Jungles Volume 49 Number 6, November/December 1996
by Matthew E. Draper

Jungle overgrowth is gradually destroying the 2,000-year-old stone containers dotting the so-called Plain of Jars in northern Laos. Perhaps used as sarcophagi, wine fermenters, or rice-storage containers, the jars range in height from three to ten feet. Some 300 have been cracked by invading plants and tree roots. Khamphay Khanthavong, who directs the conservation and archaeology division of Laos' Information and Culture Ministry, says the government lacks money to save the jars. Conservators operating on a slender budget of $143,000 per year have been trying to preserve the containers by removing the trees and plant growth. Complete preservation, however, will require foreign aid.

© 1996 by the Archaeological Institute of America