(LIVE SCIENCE) – More than 100 giant stone jars, thought to have been used in burial rituals thousands of years ago, have been rediscovered at ancient sites in forests, on hillsides and along mountain ridges in remote central Laos. The carved stone jars are scattered across miles of the rugged, tiger-haunted Xiangkhouang province, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) north of Laos’ capital, Vientiane, in South Asia. They have been dubbed jars of the dead by researchers. Several human burials, thought to be around 2,500 years

old, have been found at some of these sites in Laos, but nothing is known about the people who originally made the jars. An expedition of archaeologists from Laos and Australia visited the Xiangkhouang region in February and March this year to document known jar sites and to search for new jars-of-the-dead sites and stone quarries. The new finds show that the mysterious culture that made the stone jars was geographically more widespread than previously thought, said Louise Shewan, an archaeologist at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and one of the expedition leaders. FULL REPORT

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