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Giant Stone Jars of 400 BC ancient burial practices found in Assam

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Researchers have uncovered “mysterious” giant stone jars in India that may have been used for ancient human burial practices.

Archaeologists in India have discovered giant stone jars that may have been used for burial rituals by long-forgotten people.

The 65 sandstone jars were discovered in Northeastern parts of Assam, India, at four different locations.

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of the jars are tall and cylindrical, while others are buried partially or completely.

Giant stone jars

Similar stone vessels have been discovered in Laos and Indonesia in the past.

The findings, which involved researchers from three universities in India and Australia, were published this week in the Journal of Asian Archaeology.

Tilok Thakuria of North-Eastern Hill University and Uttam Bathari of Gauhati University led the study.

“We still don’t know who made the giant stone jars or where they lived. It’s all a bit of a mystery”, said Nicholas Skopal, a member of the research team from the Australian National University.

The researchers believe the giant stone jars were “likely associated with mortuary practices,” despite the fact that it is still unclear what they were used for.

Mr Skopal said, “There are stories from the Naga people (a north-eastern Indian ethnic group) of finding Assam jars filled with cremated remains, beads, and other material artefacts.”

Dr Thakuria said that “presently the jars are empty”, and they were once possibly covered with lids.

“The next step in this project is to excavate and document the features of these jars,” Dr Thakuria said.

Giant Stone Jars found in Neighbouring states of Assam in past

Similar sites have previously been discovered in Assam and the neighbouring state of Meghalaya, according to researchers.

So far, ten sites in Assam have been discovered, containing over 700 jars, according to Dr Thakuria. These jars are thought to date back to before 400 BC.

According to the researchers, they only searched a small area in Assam and found nothing “are likely to be a lot more [such sites] out there. We just don’t yet know where they are”.

“The longer we take to find them, the greater chance that they will be destroyed, as more crops are planted in these areas and the forests are cut down,” Mr Skopal said.

Giant stone jars

The giant stone jars discovered in Laos in 2016 are thought to have been placed there at least 2,000 years ago in Xieng Khouang province.

Researchers discovered three types of burials at the time: bones buried in pits with a large limestone block on top, bones buried in ceramic vessels, and a single body in a grave.

“The size and structure of the jars found in Assam and Laos are very similar. There’s some variation in shape and size though. The ones in Assam are more bulbous, whereas the ones in Laos are more cylindrical,” Mr Skopal said.

Who Made the Giant Stone Jars?

The people who made the giant stone jars, according to Skopal, do not appear to be associated with any living groups or cultures in India, implying that they are the last fingerprints of a vanished people.

Giant stone jars cover

“Which means there is an important to maintain the cultural heritage,” Skopal says.“The longer we take to find them, the greater chance that they will be destroyed, as more crops are planted in these areas and the forests are cut down.”

The researchers worked with local communities to find potential jar sites, which often took them through the difficult-to-navigate mountainous jungle.

“Once the sites have been recorded, it becomes easier for the government to work with the local communities to protect and maintain them so they are not being destroyed,” Skopal says.

Also Read: 5 Historical Monuments in Meghalaya Worth Visiting

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