Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ancient Khmer Rouge surviving temples to be protected by locals

Ancient Khmer Rouge surviving temples to be protected by locals

Ancient Khmer Rouge surviving temples to be protected by locals

Beneath the surface of a remote hill in Tuol Pongro commune, in Banteay Meanchey’s Malai district, lie two “mysterious” ancient temples that survived the Khmer Rouge years, waiting to be discovered.

The local community and authorities are playing their roles in preserving the “treasures”.

Prasat Knong and Prasat Krao temples are buried under Prey Praseth hill. Commune chief Sim Morn said the two are believed to have been excavated during the war.

Evidence of the digging can apparently be seen on the ground. He estimated that the former’s structure has been most damaged, while the latter is still in good shape.

“It is not clear when the temples had been excavated. The hill used to be a battleground. After the war ended, people came to live around this area and found proof of excavation,” he said.

Morn alleged that there was a looting attempt for treasures and ancient artefacts at the Prasat Krao temple.

Sixty-five-year-old Neang Thoeun from nearby O’Ampil village shared similar thoughts.

“That is why the villagers and authorities are jointly protecting the area to prevent others from doing the same thing,” he said.

Prey Praseth hill is considered sacred. Many people have come to the site to pray and undertake some rituals, asking for blessings and happiness, said Pech Chantha, 53, who lives in the area.

“Villagers simply call it [the hill] Tuol Prasat Krao because the shape of the temple is visible even though it is covered by soil,” he said.

Malai district police chief Ben Sam Ath said: “Experts had inspected the site, but no archaeological study or excavation has been carried out. The history and age of the temples remain a mystery,” he said.

The temple’s grounds contain iron-rich laterite stones, according to villagers.

They also believe that there used to be many ponds around the temples but they were filled up over decades, with water spinach and grass dominating the filled-up surface nowadays.

The provincial culture and fine arts department chief Yong Tang Kouy told The Post that the Tuol Prasat Krao site has been registered in the department’s “inventory book”.

A sign with a heritage logo has been planted to mark the boundary of the protected area.

MOST VIEWED

  • Second Hungary business forum set for H2

    Cambodia has asked Hungary to provide GSP- (Generalised System of Preferences) Plus facilities for when the Kingdom sheds its least-developed country (LDC) label, as the two countries prepare to hold a second business forum in the second half (H2) of this year to expand trade

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports

  • CPP sets out five primary strategic goals for 2023-28

    The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on January 29 concluded its two-day extraordinary congress, setting the party’s priority goals for 2023-2028. The ruling party’s congress was attended by more than 3,000 members from across the Kingdom, including the members of the permanent and central committees,

  • Nearly 50 states join Kun Khmer Federation, all set for training

    In a little over a week, the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) has accepted membership requests from 20 new nations, in addition to the exiting 29. The sudden influx of international recognition stems from the Kingdom’s successful introduction of Kun Khmer to the 32nd Souheast Asian (