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Ancient temple wall found in Siem Reap

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Archaeologists have unearthed what is thought to be an ancient library near Lolei Temple. Apsara National Authority

Ancient temple wall found in Siem Reap

The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has unearthed an ancient wall foundation around Lolei Temple that has been buried for more than 100 years under other historic religious constructions following a month of excavation at the site.

Specialists suspect the foundation used to be a library.

The Temple is located in Lolei village, Bakong commune, Prasat Bakong district, Siem Reap province and was considered sacred land in the middle of Indrathdak Baray (Lolei Baray).

ANA specialists opened the excavation site in mid-March and planned to complete it in June to begin a restoration project.

In a Facebook post, the ANA announced on Friday that its archaeologists had begun to conduct research and spotted wonderful mysteries of many ancient construction structures such as gates, floors, ceramics and walls buried under religious construction since the French colonial era.

“The discovery of this gigantic structure helps to provide new data for archaeological research, history, architecture and conservation, to develop and uphold Lolei Temple better than before,” the post read.

The ANA said a gradual change to the temple was made after new religious construction took place over some time.

But late last year, the Lolei Temple abbot, lay priests and all members of the temple’s clergy commission decided to move to give the ANA a chance to conduct archaeological research on the temple.

Tho Thon, an archaeologist at the Department of Conservation in Angkor Archeological Park and also the head of the research team at Lolei Temple told The Post on Sunday that a working group had opened 10 excavation pits under former religious construction sites in the east, north and west of the temple.

He said upon opening the pits, the group spotted the gates leading in three directions. Thon said the specialists are further studying the excavation pit as they suspect the walls to be a library. All excavation pits are currently undergoing research.

“We began to remove soil that buried the towers at a depth of 20cm to 40cm to see the wall foundation of the ancient temple as the tower was not buried deeply.

“This foundation has been buried for a long time. If we remove all the soil, it is exposed to wind and can be damaged,” he said.

On the reason for the buried structure, Thon concluded that perhaps builders in that time forgot that there was something underneath because soil had filled the ancient construction.

“We do this for the body of the temple not to collapse because the four towers date back to the French colonial era – all the towers stand tall.

“But later they can collapse as the temple was built with bricks. It can collapse easily and is more difficult to repair than a stone temple. We will repair it. It is really good for younger generations and tourists,” Thon said.

Lolei Temple was built in 893 BC.

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