Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ancient 'road' across Tonle Sap lake rediscovered

Ancient 'road' across Tonle Sap lake rediscovered

Ancient 'road' across Tonle Sap lake rediscovered

ancient.jpg
ancient.jpg

Legends abound concerning an ancient road which crossed the upper part of the

Tonle Sap lake many thousands of years ago.

Legends abound concerning an ancient road that crossed the Tonle Sap lake thousands of years ago ... and Touch Manh, a boatman from Chong Khneas, is standing in the middle of the lake holding a piece of rock that just might be a part of that road. An exceptionally low level of water in the lake enabled some adventurers to go in search of the fabled path. See ANCIENT ROAD,

Some say it was built by

Hanuman during the Age of the Gods. Others say it was built by the ancient

people before the dawn of Angkor. Still others place it during the time of

Angkor and refer to it as "Spean" - the bridge.

Most of the local

fishermen know the stories and believe that an ancient road remains at the

bottom of the Great Lake.

This year is an exceptionally low water year

for the lake. The depth has dropped from a low water average of one meter to

only about 60 centimeters at present. Not great for fish, but a prime time to

search for ancient roads on the bottom of the lake.

In late April, a

group of six fishermen involved with the Food and Agriculture

Organisation-supported community fisheries in Kompong Phluk set out with the

project's mapping specialist, Chrouk Kim Veng, in search of the ancient road.

After several hours of probing the lake bottom with sticks they hit

stone. They found what they were after: a stone road, now under 30 centimeters

of mud covered by 40 centimeters of water. This was it, the stuff of legends.

The road was approximately 10 meters wide and ran in an east-west direction.

They followed the road for over 600 meters before leaving for the day. In their

boat they carried pieces of the ancient road to share with their friends and

families ; it is a type of stone they claim to have never seen before.

One week later, I joined our mapping specialist and several of the

fishermen for a return to the site and for a walk on the ancient road. We

followed the GPS back to the road and were soon out of the boat and walking on

stone, albeit through 30 centimeters of mud and 40 centimeters of slimy

algae-covered brown/green water. Not very inviting but the road takes you and

you forget about water quality. We spent a few hours on the road and collected

shellfish from the mud to cook for lunch - traveling and eating off the old

road.

The "road" is what most certainly could have served as a road

prior to the filling of the Tonle Sap lake some 5,000 years ago. It is

sedimentary stone, concrete-like but made by the gods, not by man.

It

looks like a major flood many years ago pushed a large amount of small stones

and debris along a river-channel crossing what is now the bottom of the Tonle

Sap. This flowed over a bed of shells and became rock-like in the sun. It is

strong, with a fairly smooth surface and appears to be 6 to 10 centimeters

thick. A geologist recently examined a piece and believes it to be lithofied

sedimentary mudstone. It could well have been used by ancient people until the

lake rose and covered it, hence the source of the legend.

We returned

again with a group of friends to relax on the old road while sitting on chairs

and enjoying a cold beer in the middle of the lake - a truly unique experience.

Next week we will return with the fishermen again to start the process of

mapping where this road actually comes from, and where it goes

to.

Opportunities like this are rare, as typically the water is too deep.

Given this exceptionally low water year, we still have a few weeks to explore

the site before the lake rises again.

Another amazing site within this

amazing Great Lake.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that