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Centuries-Old Buddhist Temple Unearthed in Laos

The remains of a centuries-old temple, along with thousands of historical artifacts, have been uncovered in and around the Lao capital during excavations for the upgrade of a major road, a newspaper said Wednesday.

Lao archaeologists believe the temple Vat Yotkeo dates back to the 1548-1571 rule of King Sai Setthathirat, the Vientiane Times said. Fittingly, the ruins have been found on what is now called Setthathirat road.

The temple was destroyed by the Thais, who burned and pillaged Vientiane in 1828.

In addition to the temple, archaeologists have also unearthed about 10,000 artifacts, including a stone ax that could be 4,000 years old, the paper said.

The artifacts were found during an archaeological survey ahead of the upgrade of national route No. 1 which runs through Vientiane from the airport to the Friendship Bridge, which spans the Mekong River frontier with Thailand.

The Japanese, who are behind the road project, are giving high priority to the survey before potentially damaging construction work begins.

Director of Archaeological Research Viengkeo Souksavatdy said that the finds "help us to better understand the history of Vientiane and how it developed as a community," the report said.

Remains found at the temple include parts of a ceremonial hall, the base of a large Buddha image, smaller Buddha images, pottery and roof tiles, the paper said.

Vientiane was razed by the Thais following the defeat of the last king of the Vientiane dynasty of Lan Xang, Chao Anouvong. The population abandoned the city, and soil and jungle covered the remains of the damaged buildings.

Large-scale construction did not recommence until the French arrived toward the end of the nineteenth century to colonize the country.