The French School of the Far East, commonly known by its French acronym EFEO, has a long history steeped in the study and appreciation of Asian societies.

On July 20, the EFEO handed over 31 boxes of artefacts to the APSARA National Authority (ANA) for preservation, research and inventory. Among these treasured items, a Buddha statue and a bai sema boundary stone are notable. This gesture is part of EFEO’s collaboration with ANA in performing conservation and research work at the Angkor site.

Tin Tina, deputy director of ANA’s Research, Training and Dissemination Department, shared, “The artefacts were discovered through excavations at various research sites within the Angkor area, such as Kork Ta Siem, Boeung Don Pa, Ung Mong, Baphuon and Prey Moni.”

He meticulously listed out the contents, including ceramics of various origins, sandstone pieces from multiple sites, and the special Buddha statue and bai sema boundary stone.

Tina further informed that upon receiving these items, ANA’s experts will embark on technically sound preservation efforts. In due course, ANA plans to organise a non-permanent exhibition in the Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum in Siem Reap, where national and international visitors can immerse themselves in the study and exploration of ancient Cambodian art.

Interestingly, this event marks the third time EFEO has passed archaeological artefacts from their excavations at different research and temple restoration sites to ANA.

A previous significant donation was made in May 2022, when the French School of the Far East gifted ANA with 146 cases of archaeological artefacts, 11 wood pillars, and one inscription for preservation at the ANA headquarters.

These artefacts were unearthed during a five-year excavation spanning from 2012 to 2017, and during the restoration of the Western Mebon Temple.

Unfortunately, Long Kosal, the deputy director-general and spokesperson of the APSARA National Authority, was not available for comment on July 19.

Founded in 1900 with its initial headquarters in Hanoi in the then French Indochina, the EFEO moved its base to Phnom Penh in 1957 following Vietnam’s independence. In 1975, the headquarters made a final shift to Paris.

Predominantly focused on archaeology, philology and the study of contemporary Asian societies, the EFEO has also been trusted with the conservation work at the archaeological site of Angkor since 1907.