Dating the megalithic culture of Laos: radiocarbon, optically stimulated luminescence and U/Pb zircon results

Shewan, Louise, O'Reilly, Dougald, Armstrong, Richard, Toms, Phillip, Webb, John, Beavan, Nancy, Luangkhoth, Thonglith, Wood, Jaime, Halcrow, Siân, Domett, Kate, Van Den Bergh, Julie, and Chang, Nigel (2021) Dating the megalithic culture of Laos: radiocarbon, optically stimulated luminescence and U/Pb zircon results. PLoS ONE, 16 (3). e0247167.

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Abstract

The megalithic jar sites of Laos (often referred to as the Plain of Jars) remain one of Southeast Asia’s most mysterious and least understood archaeological cultures. The sites, recently inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage, host hollowed stone jars, up to three metres in height, which appear scattered across the landscape, alone or clustered in groups of up to more than 400. Until now, it has not been possible to estimate when the jars were first placed on the landscape or from where the stone was sourced. Geochronological analysis using the age of detrital zircons demonstrates a likely quarry source for one of the largest megalithic jar sites. Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating suggests the jars were positioned at the sites potentially as early as the late second millennium BC. Radiocarbon dating of skeletal remains and charcoal samples places mortuary activity around the jars from the 9-13th century AD, suggesting the sites have maintained ritual significance from the period of their initial placement until historic times.

Item ID: 67142
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Copyright Information: © 2021 Shewan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Albert Shimmins Fund
Projects and Grants: ARC DP150101164
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2021 04:56
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430102 Archaeology of Asia, Africa and the Americas @ 100%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130702 Understanding Asia’s past @ 100%
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