Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Angkor Thom statues unearthed

Angkor Thom statues unearthed

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The west gate of Angkor Thom in the process of being excavated on June 7. NICK SELLS

Angkor Thom statues unearthed

Recently discovered statues at one of the gates of Angkor Thom temple in Siem Reap province have attracted public attention after their pictures went viral on social media.

An archaeological team from the Apsara National Authority (ANA) found the buried statues broken in pieces – including the heads and pieces of their bodies – during an excavation of the Ta Kav gate at Angkor Thom.

ANA spokesman Long Kosal said the team started repairs on the Ta Kav or western gate of Angkor Thom in early 2021 and found the statues, which are of devas and asuras, in July and September.

He noted that in front of the five gates of the temple stand the sculptures of the devas and asuras – a class of demons in Hindu and Buddhist mythology – turning and churning up the water in a tug of war in a process called the Churning of the Ocean of Milk to extract from the waters the elixir of immortality.

The statues, he added, reflect the devout religious beliefs of people living at the time and the importance of community water systems and irrigation.

“We repaired a few metres of the western gate and now we are doing a full archaeological excavation to continue the work,” he said.

Photographer Nick Sells visited Siem Reap province and posted a few photos of the broken statues to social media. He said that at the western gate of Angkor Thom there was a bridge buried in mud and the statues were found during its excavation.

“I love visiting the West Gate at sunset. This time when I visited I was very happy to stumble upon the excavation work taking place,” said Sells. “It’s amazing to see a face and many pieces of the bridge being revealed from the mud of the moat after presumably hundreds of years. I’m looking forward to seeing the full renovation of the West Gate.”

Kosal said that during the excavation, the team found the heads from statues and some broken bodies of the statues, so they were forced to divert the water in the moat there and do a full excavation. Despite the statues being discovered few days ago, they were kept in their original places until the team finished the repair work.

The statues of devas and asuras found beneath the bamboo and trees had been broken hundreds of years ago, he said.

“We have not yet removed the pieces of the statues that were discovered, such as the heads and other pieces, because when we discover something we cannot remove it immediately. We have to make a record of their exact location as they were found and do drawings and take samples using archaeological techniques,” he said.

He added that the technical work will be complete when they re-assemble the pieces and then put them back together and then they will continue to excavate the area to the best of their ability.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • 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