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Archaeologists unearth ruins of an ancient temple in Kratie

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Thuy Chanthourn, the deputy director of the Institute of Culture and Fine Arts at the Royal Academy of Cambodia and deputy president of the Cambodian Historians Association. Hong Menea

Archaeologists unearth ruins of an ancient temple in Kratie

Cambodian archaeologists have unearthed the remnants of a previously undiscovered temple in Kratie province’s historical Samphu Borak area – the former capital of the pre-Angkor Empire Chenla period.

The find, located in Kampong Damrei village in Sambor district’s Boeung Char commune, is to be called Kampong Damrei Temple.

The discovery was made public at a press conference at the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh and attended by some 50 monks, government officials and students on Tuesday.

The archaeological team was led by Thuy Chanthourn, the deputy director of the Institute of Culture and Fine Arts at the Royal Academy of Cambodia and deputy president of the Cambodian Historians Association.

Chanthourn said at the event that his team has been working on ancient sites connected to the Chenla era since early 2015.

They use the global positioning system (GPS) to carry out in-depth research and record and preserve any temples they find as areas of important historical value.

The team also discovered the foundations of what they are calling Et Dot Temple at Koh Rongeav, about 200m from the western bank of the Mekong River. The temple’s foundations, built on a 50m by 50m plot, measure 10m by 10m.

Another small temple made of clay was also located about 40m to the north.

“Besides the newly discovered temples, our team also discovered a number of tools within the Kampong Damrei temple complex, such as supports for statues, templates, collapsed gates and other everyday equipment used by people in that era,” Chanthourn said.

He asked authorities at all levels to act to prevent people from stealing ancient artefacts from Koh Kring, Kor Chbar, Koh Rongeav and a number of other areas in Cambodia.

If the Kingdom loses such artefacts, he said, it loses part of the national and cultural identity left by our ancestors.

In a separate discovery, a more than 1m high statue was found in Siem Reap province’s Prasat Bakong district.

Measuring 114cm in height, 54cm across its shoulders and 44cm at the waist, Apsara Authority experts discovered the statue in the northeast of Preah Ko Temple on Monday in Bakong commune.

Provincial heritage protection policeman Uon Yorng told The Post that after being informed by villagers, he asked them to stop their activities and wait for him to inspect the find and inform the relevant authorities.

He said villagers have discovered many statues before and they report such discoveries to the authorities on a regular basis.

Apsara Authority archaeologist Chhouk Somala told The Post on Tuesday that he could not immediately confirm whether it was a Vishnu statue or something else because many important features had been damaged.

“The next procedure is to preserve the statue. I will ask the team to measure and document it. The statue will be transferred to experts to restore it, before being displayed to the public,” he said.

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