THE mystical archeological location known as the ‘Plain of Jars’ in the Xieng Khuang province received official certification as a World Heritage site recently.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage committee presented Laos with a certificate that follows the listing of the site, also called the ‘Megalithic Jar Sites’, according to The Laotian Times.
Situated on a plateau near the provincial capital of Phonsavan in the Lao highlands, the site is renowned for its tubular megalithic stone jars, where more than 2,000 have been documented.
The jars measure between a metre to three metres and are made of sedimentary rock.
Laos was represented by Professor Bosengkham Vongdara during a special presentation ceremony for the certificate at the Forum of Ministers of Culture during the 40th session of the Unesco General Conference held at the headquarters in Paris, France earlier this week.
“We highly appreciate the role of Unesco in fostering cultural diversity so that we can conserve and develop our own diverse and unique national culture and learn closely and constructively from each other,” Vondara said when addressing the ceremony.
“In addition, our government is making a great effort to our heritage through tourism. By maintaining and opening up our cultural and historical sites, our aim is to grow and encourage cultural tourism, natural eco-tourism, and historical tourism.”
The ‘Plain of Jars’ was inscribed on the World Heritage List at a World Heritage Committee meeting held in Baku, Azerbaijan on July 10.
The origin of the jars remains unknown, though archaeologists believe that they were originally used between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago.
Archeologists believe that the jars may have been used as funerals urns or food storage.
According to Laotian legend, the jars were supposedly created by Khun Cheung, an ancient king of giants who lived in the highlands.
It is said that Cheung, after fighting a long and victorious battle, created the jars in order to brew rice wine to celebrate.
It is the third World Heritage Site in Laos after Luang Prabang, the former capital of Lanexang Kingdom, was declared as a World Heritage City in 1995, followed by Vat Phou Khmer Hindu Temple ruins in Champasack in 2001.