The Plain of Jars and ancient dentistry

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The Plain of Jars in central Laos has long been a megalithic mystery. There are thousands of jars scattered over 90 sites in the central Lao province of Xieng Khouang, and they’ve remained largely unstudied due to the huge quantity of unexploded bombs that dot the area.

While it’s long been thought the jars are burial sites, recent excavations led by a team of Australian and Lao researchers confirmed it. The study has revealed various burial methods, including the interment of whole bodies and bundled bones placed inside ceramic vessels and then buried.

Dr Louise Shewan, from the Monash Warwick Alliance, is analysing teeth found at the burial ground to ascertain who these people were and where they lived. “Teeth mineralise at different ages, so by analysing different teeth we are able to ascertain where an individual lived during their childhood,” says Dr Shewan.

The results of the project will be showcased in Monash’s CAVE2 facility with support from the Monash Immersive Visualisation Platform.