Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Body Jars," Cliff Coffins Are Clues to Unknown Tribe

Photo by: John Miksic

Skulls and other human bones poke from large ceramic jars at Khnorng Sroal, one of the newly dated mountainside burials in southwestern Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains.

The bones were placed in the 20-inch-tall (50-centimeter-tall) body jars only after the bodies had decomposed or had been picked clean by scavenging animals, according to the study, which is published in the latest issue of the journal Radiocarbon.

"The Cardamom highlanders may have used some form of exposure of the body to de-flesh the bones, like the 'sky burials' known in other cultures," study leader Beavan said.

Placing the sky-high burials couldn't have been easy, according to Beavan. Systems of ropes and bamboo baskets may have been used to raise or lower the urns and coffins to some of the trickier sites, she speculated.

Visit the site to see more of the fabulous photos. There is more to the story under each photo. It's well worth the trip.

National Geographic News. 2012. ""Body Jars," Cliff Coffins Are Clues to Unknown Tribe". National Geographic News. Posted: May 15, 2012. Available online:

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