Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Angkor turtle shell held secret treasure

Angkor turtle shell held secret treasure

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The turtle sculpture discovered on May 6 housed artefacts including a crystal dragon and a trident. Apsara National Authority

Angkor turtle shell held secret treasure

Archaeologist Chea Socheat is seeking help from international experts to identify artefacts found inside the shell of a turtle sculpture which was recently unearthed at an excavation site at Kandal Srah Srang temple in the Angkor region of Siem Reap.

The turtle sculpture was discovered on May 6 and archaeologists found a white crystal dragon and a trident hidden in a rectangular compartment located in the turtle’s shell.

The Apsara National Authority (ANA) said that on May 8, its excavation team found another smaller turtle sculpture.

Both turtles were kept in place at the excavation site to avoid any damage to their original shape. The second turtle sculpture has not been opened.

Socheat, the project director and research leader of the excavation told The Post on Sunday that some of the artefacts found in the turtle sculpture are now being preserved at the Preah Norodom Sihanouk Angkor Museum in Siem Reap.

“We opened the turtle shell and found water and solid mud in it. Until we cleaned everything out of there, we only saw mud and dirt.

“We did not attempt to dig more out of it as we were afraid of damaging the original shape. The hole in the turtle where the artefacts were found is 10cm wide and 5cm deep.”

He said the turtle had dirty spots on it, which experts suspected might be grain or a substance that had melted to the sculpture.

Socheat said: “We need researchers who are skilful in this area of expertise and we have contacted Australian experts, but none have arrived yet.

“Due to the Covid-19 situation, we may send some parts of the sculpture to other countries for experiments. If there are any grains or ornaments, we will know after experiments have been conducted,” he said.

ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Monday that the discovery offers new evidence about Cambodia’s history.

“We are so happy we found these antiquities. They will help us understand the history, purpose and arrangement of the Kandal Srah Srang temple. This discovery is beneficial for its archaeological and scientific data,” he said.

The archaeological team also discovered a wooden structure on the temple’s terrace.

Socheat said in the future, archaeologists will construct a roof over the excavation site to protect the sculptures from heat and flooding.


  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures

  • More than 10,000 workers suspended

    More than 10,000 workers at 18 factories in Svay Rieng province have been suspended because of Covid-19, said provincial deputy governor Ros Pharith. Home to 11 special economic zones, Pharith said Svay Rieng has not been spared as the pandemic takes a toll on the global economy. “There

  • Nod given for school exams

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport announced that State-run higher educational institutions can hold examinations to end the academic year, while private schools can organise grade 9 and grade 12 examinations at their premises for two days. However, private institutions have to take measures to prevent

  • Kingdom’s exports to US mushroom 25.94% in first five months to $2.4B

    Though Cambodia’s exports to other countries have been stalled amid the evolving Covid-19 environment, the Kingdom’s shipments to the US were worth 25.94 per cent more in the first five months of this year than they were in the year-ago period. Bilateral trade between

  • Oz lauds Kingdom’s passage of money laundering laws

    In a press release published by the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday, the country applauded Cambodia’s stance on transnational crimes as well as its promulgation of an anti-money laundering law and a law on combating proliferation financing. The praise came after King

  • Lotus face masks designed to cover globe

    A French designer in Cambodia has produced ecological face masks from lotus fibre to supply local and international markets with an eye on preserving ancestral techniques and supporting Cambodian women in rural communities. During a trip to Asia, Awen Delaval, an eco-friendly fashion designer, was