An ancient statue was unearthed near the one-time imperial capital of Angkor Thom on Sunday by researchers studying an Angkor-era hospital nearby, the Apsara Authority announced yesterday.
The joint research group, consisting of members of the Apsara Authority and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, discovered the statue by accident while excavating the site of an ancient dam called Tonle Sgout, about 1 kilometre away from Angkor Thom city, researchers said.
Researchers believe the statue was meant to serve as a guardian for the Tonle Sgout hospital, which was built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII, who ruled from 1181 to 1218 CE.
Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal said yesterday that the statue has been sent to the Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum for display. “Door guardians were symbols of protection . . . The guardian used to stand in front of the door of the temples or other ancient places,” Kosal said.
The group is four days into its two-week research project exploring the Tonle Sgout ancient hospital and dam. The guardian statue, about 1.9 metres long, was found buried about half a metre deep.
Both arms were broken off, as were both legs – with one broken off at the thigh, and the other at the ankle – according to researchers. The Apsara Authority said the sculpture is in the Bayon style of the late 12th to early 13th century.