Herodotus Returns

Iron Age find in Laos reveals prehistoric burial customs
January 24, 2010, 4:39 pm
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Archaeologists in Laos have uncovered 2,000-year-old remains at a burial ground in a cave in Luang Prabang province. The first evidence of a secondary burial in Laos, this find will certainly shed light on customs during what scholars call the Iron Age in Southeast Asia.

The discovery of Iron Age human bone fragments in Laos has shed new light on the region’s prehistoric burial customs, state media reports said Friday. A team of Lao and foreign archeologists foundthe fragments last week in a burial ground believed to be about 2,000 years old when South-East Asia was in the Iron Age, the Vientiane Times reported.

The discovery was made during a dig known as the Middle Mekong Archaeological Project, which is a joint effort between Laos’ Department of Heritage and the University of Pennsylvania Museum in the United States.

“Last week, we unexpectedly found two skulls and a fragment of a third, a baby, along with some body bones,” said Joyce White, associate curator at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. “It is quite a significant discovery of Lao archaeology.”

Also among the items found was a burial pot containing human bones, which was the first such example of a secondary burial, or the custom of dismembering a corpse and removing all flesh so the bones could be placed in a container.

Although the practice was common in neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, this was the first evidence of a secondary burial in what is now Laos.

More on the find in Laos.


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