Plain of Jars, Phonsavanh, Laos.
Flickr/David McKelvey Plain of Jars, Phonsavanh, Laos.

The Plain of Jars is a mysterious archaeological site located in Laos' Xieng Khouang province. Housing around 2,500 jars created by an unknown civilization between 500 B.C. and 200 A.D., the objects are seemingly strewn across this broad stretch of land. Because this area was bombed heavily during the Vietnam War, there still remains a danger of explosive land mines and bombs—which makes archaeological work quite risky. Recently, researchers from Australian National University (ANU) and Melbourne's Monash University derived a way to mitigate risk in the field by enlisting drones. The team is trying to construct a virtual site map using drones that capture 3D images every 3.9 inches, and a virtual reality mapping system called CAVE2. This replica will not only help with safety, but also track any changes to the site. Museums may also use the modelto take visitors virtually to new places. "For museum applications, this is an amazing tool especially [for] remote museums that are not at the site. So you can create this environment where people feel they are walking among the monuments in that 3D context," said Dr. Dougald O'Reilly, a senior lecturer at the ANU's school of archaeology. [ + Lonely Planet]

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