Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Distant past at National Museum

Distant past at National Museum

Distant past at National Museum

THE latest exhibition at the National Museum of Cambodia provides an interesting opportunity to delve into Cambodia's mysterious pre-Angkorian past. 

"Angkor Ancestors" showcases artefacts excavated from two sites in Siem Reap province, both of which have unveiled new findings that have significantly improved understanding of pre-Angkorian life.

L'Ecole francaise d'Extreme-Orient (EFEO) has been excavating the two sites near the Western Baray reservoir of Siem Reap since 2003.

The artefacts excavated at both sites represent some of the oldest evidence of civilisation in Cambodia.

"The findings are very important for the National Museum of Cambodia," said Hab Touch, director of the National Museum.

"Very little is known about this period, and this exhibition is an opportunity for people to learn more about prehistoric Cambodia."

Learning about the past

The display of pottery jars, skeletons and tools will help both the public and scholars learn more about this period of Cambodia's history.

Christopher Pottier, a French archaeologist from EFEO, said the overall objective of the dig was to find out more about the diet, habits and evolution of this civilisation, which existed in Cambodia in the seventh and eighth centuries.

"This project was not a treasure-hunting mission, but rather aimed to uncover information about how these people lived and get an idea of their daily life," Pottier said.

Excavating one of the sites proved a difficult task, given the location of the site in the centre of the predominantly submerged baray.

"We only had one month during the driest period of 2004 to excavate the site before the rains covered the area with water," Pottier said.

That year, the group dug up complete human remains from a shallow grave in the middle of the baray.

The skeleton, dating from between 2000 BC and 3000 BC, was found only 10 centimetres under the surface of the baray, which was built during the 11th century by slave labour.

"Angkor Ancestors" opens at 5:30pm this evening at the National Museum and runs until the end of the year.


  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,