Archaeologists unearth dozens of giant mysterious stone jars in India

It is not known who made the jars and for what purpose.

 Indian flag (illustrative). (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Indian flag (illustrative).
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Bulging from the ground are 65 giant sandstone vessels, discovered late last month in Assam, India, by researchers from the Australian National University (ANU). 

The discovery comes as part of a larger collaboration, with the new findings published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Asian Archaeology

According to the researchers, the jars vary in shape and decoration. Some are tall and cylindrical, while others are partly or fully buried in the ground.  

Although similar jars have previously been unearthed in Laos and Indonesia, it remains a mystery who made the newly discovered sandstone jars or what they were used for. A theory surrounding the Laos jars is that they may have been used for burial rituals. 

 4. Collection of wine jars after the restoration process (credit: DAFNA GAZIT/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY) 4. Collection of wine jars after the restoration process (credit: DAFNA GAZIT/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

The researchers worked with local communities on the ground to find potential locations of vessels, often through mountainous jungle terrain that was challenging to navigate.  According to ANU, it is likely that more jars are still out there, waiting to be uncovered. Researchers expressed fear that the longer they take to find them, the more likely they will be destroyed. 

"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," ANU PhD student Nicholas Skopal said.

"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," he said.