The formal declaration of the Plain of Jars as a world heritage site took place during the 43rd Session of the World Heritage Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan, on July 10, 2019.

The ceremony in Xieng Khuang province was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Prof. Dr Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune, the Deputy Governor of Xieng Khuang province, Mr Sengviay Sengchalern, and representatives of UNESCO in Bangkok, Thailand.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mrs Suanesavanh Vignaket, said the Plain of Jars world heritage proposal involved 11 separate sites that contained 1,325 large and small ancient stone jars in the districts of Paek, Phaxay, Phoukoud and Kham.

The jars were carved from sandstone and granite, and their size ranges from very small to about 3 metres in height. They are thought to be 2,500 -3,000 years old.

There are also a number of stone slabs, which are thought to be lids for the jars, or tombstones, while tools and other items of archaeological interest were found around the jars.

The Plain of Jars is located at the intersection of two major cultural systems during the Iron Age in Southeast Asia and the area is known to be a place of migration within the region, resulting in trade and cultural exchanges, Mrs Suanesavanh said.

The recognition of the Megalithic Jar Sites by UNESCO is expected to swell visitor numbers and bolster the economy of Xieng Khuang province.

According to experts, the Plain of Jars comprises about 80 distinct sites but only 11 are included in the listed area as they have the highest concentration of stone jars.

Jars have also been found in Phoukhoun district in Luang Prabang province, which borders Xieng Khuang province.

Three large sites in Paek district are particularly popular with visitors. The first site is 15km southwest of the provincial capital Phonsavanh, and has about 300 jars.

The second site is 25km south of Phonsavanh and contains about 90 jars spread over two hills. The third site is 35km southeast of Phonsavanh and has about 150 jars.

Laos achieved UNESCO recognition of its first world heritage site in 1995 when Luang Prabang’s old town was nominated for listing. The second followed in 2001 when the Vat Phou temple complex in Champassak province was declared a world heritage site.

The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism is currently working on a submission to UNESCO with regard to the Hin Namno National Protected Area, otherwise known as the Stone Karst Formation Forest, in Khammuan province.

According to