VILLAGERS in Prey Veng province discovered 86 statues of the Buddha inside a cavern near Slek Krey Mountain in Ba Phnom district, local officials said yesterday.
District Governor Mau Eang said the statues were found on Wednesday by a former soldier and his wife, who earn their living selling rock quarried from the mountain.
The couple came across the pieces while prospecting on the mountainside, uncovering a cavern where the statues were concealed in a large earthenware jar.
Mau Eang said that after they found the items, the provincial authorities were notified and came to collect them.
“Currently, we are keeping them in the district hall to wait for an evalutation by officials from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts,” he said.
Mau Eang added that although the statues might be made from copper or bronze, it was clear they were not made from gold.
An official from the provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts conducted an initial examination of the statues on Friday and said that 78 of the 86 were intact.
Bin Sam Ol, chief of religious affairs for Ba Phnom district, said yesterday that any discovered artefacts, including statues of the Buddha, are
generally sent to either the provincial museum or to the National Museum in Phnom Penh.
“However, we do not know yet what these statues are made from, but we hope they are a valuable metal,” he said.
Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Him Chhem said he would send an official to Ba Phnom district today to make a full evaluation of the items. The ministry would hold a press conference upon his return to disseminate the details of their assessment, he added.