Villagers in Siem Reap caused a social media stir when they uncovered human remains they believed to be ancient while digging a latrine in Sra Nge commune on Tuesday, though local officials yesterday tempered the excitement, saying the remains likely dated from the 1970s.
Vy Chhorda, 17, a villager at Sra Nge commune’s Prey Thom village, said yesterday that fragments of skull, arm and leg bones – as well as shards of a clay pot – were found in the earth behind a home in the village.
“We think they are the remains of an ancient person because [the bones] look bigger than the body of a human being today,” Chhorda said, adding, “We want the relevant officials to investigate the remains and find how old they are.”
He said that, for now, the bones are being kept in the home of the person on whose property they were discovered. Villagers plan to hold a ceremony today to pray for the body.
However Ngew Thong, Sra Nge commune chief, said yesterday that the remains were likely not ancient.
“These are the remains of normal people who might have been killed during the Pol Pot regime, because they were buried in shallow hole,” he said.
“I can proclaim that these are not ancient remains.”
Thong said the discovery has been reported to the city governor already, but officials have yet to investigate.
Long Kosal, deputy director of the Apsara Authority’s communications department, said he had yet to be informed of the discovery. In 2012, excavators in Siem Reap’s nearby Kralanh district found 20 human skulls in shallow earth, suspected to be an undiscovered Khmer Rouge-era mass grave.