Beneath Angkor’s storied stones, a new discovery has sparked intrigue.

Last week, the APSARA National Authority (ANA), in collaboration with the University of Hawaii and Flinders University, employed magnetometer technology to scrutinise what is believed to be an ancient iron kiln at the revered Angkor site.

Surveying a location near Phnom Bok Mountain, in Srae Changhout village, the technical team unearthed a site yet untapped.

Collaborating closely with Australia’s Flinders University, ANA explored the grounds of Kok Ach Dek, also known as Kok Deum Tnaot, prior to the excavation.

Im Sokrithy, archaeologist and head of research, training and communication at ANA, said the site of the newly discovered ancient iron kiln is nestled within the borders of the Angkor Archaeological Park.

According to the ANA, the site presents compelling signs of its former function.

“There is some evidence, such as scrap metal, stove fragments on the station itself and the tradition of the villagers to use the iron ore as a cure for illness, leading to the conclusion that this site is an ancient iron kiln that is important in the capital of Angkor in ancient Khmer,” it said.

Earlier explorations had identified similar iron kilns located far beyond the eastern boundaries of Angkor, such as in Phnom Dek in Preah Vihear province, and in the Khvav region of Chi Kreng district. Additionally, a discovery was made in Angkor Chum district.

“But now we have studied and found ancient iron kilns in Angkor Park. The ancient iron industry was important in supplying the demand for metals for domestic utensils, agricultural equipment, weapons and other supplies for the 800,000 people of ancient Angkor.”

Further exciting discoveries have emerged, with ANA identifying two more kiln sites in Angkor Park. These lie in close proximity to Sala Kravan and Trapeang Russey villages, located just north and south of Phnom Bok along National Road 67 respectively.