Hanlin Archaeological Zone

Northern Myanmar

The 32 excavation sites here date back to the Pyu era (4th to 9th centuries AD). The sites rise above Hanlin village and survey the plains for a surprising distance; archaeologists have found large, low sections of brickworks that once formed part of a wall enclosing a complex that was 2 miles wide and 1 mile long.

Unless you're desperately interested in the subject, the archaeological zone is an underwhelming experience, mainly because the site is poorly run and signposted. Before leaving Shwebo, be sure to visit Shwebon Yadana to purchase a ticket from the archaeological office and warn them that you will be visiting Hanlin. Even so, you will likely have to go in search of the various key-holders to the sites yourself.

Several of the excavated grave sites can be visited. Many of the sites have yielded pottery and coins. To non-specialists, they look relatively similar (metal-roofed barns covering in-situ skeletons whose depth is a guide to their antiquity). If you don’t want to spend hours seeing everything, consider making a beeline for Site 29, where you can still see the ornaments and weapons with which the bodies were buried.

The excavations are scattered over several square miles, so you’ll need wheels. An archaeology-department fixer might be willing to accompany you, but more likely you'll be on your own. The key-holders at each sub-site expect a tip (K1000), which is a good way of benefiting the local community, as your entry fee goes to the government’s archaeology department.

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