While some have maintained that the giant jars were used to collect the monsoon rainwater, most archaeologists believe that the jars were used as funerary urns. Excavation by Lao and Japanese archaeologists in the intervening years has supported this interpretation with the discovery of human remains, burial goods and ceramics around the stone jars. It is believed that the jars were used to place the corpses of deceased people where they were left to decompose or ‘distill’, a practice that has been common in Thailand and Laos, usually in pits. It is believed that the bodies were left in the jars for the soft tissue to decompose and the body to dry out before being cremated. Once they had been cremated, the ashes would have been returned to the urns, or perhaps buried in a sacred place, freeing the jars for re-use to decompose another body.
©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved