SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

The Plain of Jars of Laos - Site Clusters and Jar Distribution

Rosalia Genovese
Lia Genovese (CSEAS Small Grant recipient 2012)

Date: 29 April 2014Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 29 April 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Seminar


For over a century, the Plain of Jars in the Xieng Khouang Province of Laos has defied researchers’ efforts to document its geographical extent. A 1903 sketch map by a French government official was followed in 1925 by an inventory of just six sites compiled with information from general travellers, architects and geologists. The missions led by Madeleine Colani (1866-1943) in 1931-33 and 1940, sponsored by the École Française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO), increased the total to 27 sites but the demarcations she envisaged have since been rendered obsolete by the discovery of dozens of new sites beyond her envisaged confines. Millions of unexploded devices trapped underground, a legacy of the 1964-73 Second Indochina War, made field archaeology a dangerous proposition until the early 1990s. At 2010, the number of known sites stood at 58 and the 20 new sites added in the last three years have taken the total to 78, thanks also to the efforts of district officials engaged in participatory mapping. The total may reach 100 once newly-reported sites are surveyed and documented. A “site” can consist of one single jar or several hundred jars. What conclusions can be drawn from the wide disparity in the quantities and location of the sites themselves? In this presentation I will discuss the results of my research in cluster analysis and jar distribution density at the Plain of Jars, enriched by the documentation of particularly inaccessible sites surveyed thanks to a Small Grant from CSEAS in 2012.

Speaker Biography

As well as finance assignments in the USA and Hungary, I have travelled extensively, with the last seven years being spent in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, volunteering and carrying out preliminary research for my PhD topic.These are some of my main interests: Plain of Jars; Iron Age ethnography and historiography of northeast Laos; Iron Age burial customs in southeast Asia; French Indochina administration in Laos; prehistoric regional links.Travelling, music of the world, archaeology, comparative religion, sports, photography, films.

Organiser: Centres & Programmes Office

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