Madeleine Colani

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Madeleine Colani (1866 in Strasbourg, France–1943 in Hanoi, French Indochina) was a female French archaeologist, born in Strasbourg. Colani was "a pioneering fieldworker who combined the roles of geologist, paleobotanist, archeologist, and ethnographer."[1] She is well known for discovering the Hoabinhian culture from approximately 16,000 BCE, and for her investigations on the Plain of Jars.[2]

Life and career[edit]

In 1899, she arrived to Vietnam to teach, in 1914 returned to France to earn her doctorate. From 1920 to 1927, she worked for Indo-chinese geology bureau. She contributed much for Vietnamese archaeology, especially Sa Huỳnh Culture. She conducted archaeologic surveys in Nghệ An Province, Quảng Bình Province and Hạ Long Bay in Vietnam and Plain of Jars in Laos.

Colani is the source for today's understanding of the megalithic stone jars on the Plain of Jars, investigating and arguing "convincingly" that they were urns, used in funerary rites.[3] Her 1930 work on the subject, The Megaliths of Upper Laos, is Colani's "great contribution to archaeological literature".[3]

In 1929, she worked for École française d'Extrême-Orient.

She died in 1943 in Hanoi.[3]


  • Colani M. (1927). L'âge de la pierre dans la province de Hoa Binh. Mémoires du Service Géologique de l'Indochine 13
  • Colani, Madeleine. (1930). The Megaliths of Upper Laos.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Russell Ciochon and Jamie James, "Laos Keeps Its Urns", Ciochon's Bioanthropology Website, University of Iowa (last visited July 16, 2012).
  2. ^ "The Stone Jars of Laos", ViewZone Magazine (last visited July 16, 2012).
  3. ^ a b c Elisabeth Eaves, "In Laos, the Lady and the Jars", New York Times, July 15, 2012.