Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Archeologists find ancient phallic statue




Archeologists find ancient phallic statue

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Archeological researchers found a tipless stone Shiva linga statue in Kratie province on Saturday. Photo supplied

Archeologists find ancient phallic statue

An archeological team has found a metre-long tipless stone linga (penis) of the Hindu deity Shiva in the foundations of a temple in Kratie province’s historical Samphu Borak area, a former capital of the pre-Angkor Empire Chenla period.

Thuy Chanthourn, the deputy director of the Institute of Arts and Culture and the team leader, told The Post on Sunday that the find was important as the tip of the sculpture was likely to have been originally covered in a precious metal, which had probably been removed by robbers.

This made it different from other such artefacts in the National Museum in Phnom Penh, the Angkor Conservation Centre and other museums across Cambodia.

“Friends of mine who are experts of the Angkor era said the linga sculpture was unusual as it was found without its tip, which was likely to have been originally covered in a precious metal."

“We see many examples of ancient linga sculptures covered with gold, silver or bronze. So this sculpture may well have also been covered in a precious metal before it was dug up and the tip removed by robbers."

“Everywhere, 100 per cent of all the temple remnants I have unearthed, [I have found that] the foundations have been destroyed by people who dug them up while searching for valuable artefacts,” he said.

Chanthourn, who is also deputy president of the Cambodian Historians Association at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said on Friday that he also led a group of the academy’s trainee archaeologists on a research tour of the Samphu Borak site on May 10.

On the dig, they found previously undiscovered artefacts including a carved stone hollow, a trough for holy water and parts of the supports for a gate, as well as the Shiva linga sculpture, in the remnants of two temples, he said.

Appeal

In early March he found an unusual sculpture with three linga of the same size and shape sticking out from a base like an inverted tripod, he added.

Chanthourn said the linga sculptures were of huge value as relics of Cambodian history and called on the relevant authorities, especially the provincial department of culture, to have them placed in a museum.

“I don’t have the money to transport them to a museum myself. I would like to appeal to the authorities, especially the Kratie provincial Department of Culture, [after] seeing my report and knowing the information contained therein, to take these artefacts to a museum to avoid them being stolen as they are incredibly valuable,” he said.

Hok Phaliny, deputy director of the provincial Department of Culture, said on Monday that after returning to work on Tuesday, she would inform her director of the discoveries so experts could visit the location and take the artefacts to a safer place.

“Being aware of [the find], the department director will assign experts to examine [it],” she said.

Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts spokesman Thai Norak Satya could not be reached for comment.

Chanthourn’s team have unearthed the remnants of nearly 100 previously undiscovered temples dating from the 6th and 7th centuries in Kratie province’s historical Samphu Borak area.

The ancient foundations were found as part of research into the Chenla civilisation that began in 2015, which also took them to locations in Kratie, Mondulkiri, Ratanakkiri, Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham provinces, as well as to Vietnam and Laos.

He said he had used his own funds to cover transport, accommodation and food for past research trips, and appealed for the government to create a fund to assist in future archaeological research.

MOST VIEWED

  • UN bodies call for drug centre closure

    Thirteen UN entities on Monday issued a joint statement calling on countries in Asia and the Pacific to close all compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other diseases and some forms of human rights violations. The group includes

  • Man on run after family murder

    A mother and daughter were found dead amid a pile of burnt rubble after a house in Thma Koul district’s Bonsai Treng commune in Battambang burned down at 1:40am on Sunday. District police chief Phong Sopheap told The Post on Monday that Kim Thoeun, 52,

  • Racism a ‘chronic disease’ in the US

    China said on Monday that the ongoing civil unrest in the US highlighted its severe problems of racism and police violence, and exposed Washington’s double standards in supporting Hong Kong’s protesters. “Black people’s lives are also lives. Their human rights must also

  • VN PM targets prosperous status for key southern economic region by 2035

    Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Saturday asked the southern key economic region to strive to become a powerful and prosperous region by 2035, 10 years ahead of the deadline for the same goal for the whole nation. He made the remarks while chairing a meeting

  • Thai MPs push $60B Covid-19 aid package through Parliament

    A covid-19 financial aid package sailed through Thailand’s House of Representatives on Sunday but opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) attacked the 1.9 trillion baht ($60 billion) aid as mostly benefiting big businesses. After five days of debate, the lower house voted in favour of the package

  • Indonesia backtracks on decision to relax wood export terms

    Indonesia has backtracked on a decision to relax export requirements for timber products months after issuing a deregulation policy that environmental groups criticised for threatening to put sustainable timber trade at risk. On May 11, the Ministry of Trade issued a regulation annulling its previous regulation