Conservationists at Angkor Wat are calling for a rich benefactor to step in and help
fund restoration of a recently-discovered temple at Preah Khan beyond the north gate
of Angkor Thom.
The adopt-a-temple project is the brain-child of British architect John Sanday of
the Conservation Project who is seeking $250,000.
Located at the eastern end of the monastic complex built by King Jayavarman VII in
1191, the edifice initially appeared to be no more than a small pile of rubble beneath
the overgrown jungle.
Sanday and his team had walked past the site for nearly a year before realizing that
an entire building lay waiting to be rediscovered.
The temple's vault had collapsed but still continued to support the center of the
structure, said Sanday explaining the reason for its structural preservation.
It is thought to be a dharma sala, a resting house for visiting monks prior to entering
Preah Khan, whose 56 hectares once housed a city of 97,840 inhabitants.
"We call it the chapel on the green," he said.
A group of American tourists clamoring around the site responded enthusiastically
to the idea of sponsoring the temple but stopped short of full-scale adoption.
They were, however, buying the project's T-shirts by the dozen. At $20 each, $18
goes towards the group's restoration work.
Awed by Angkor Wat, the tourists said they enjoyed the more intimate scale of Preah
"The work here interests us very much," said Leo Greenland, a businessman
visiting from New York.
Work at Preah Khan emphasizes conserving the building as a partial ruin rather than
Work on the dharma sala will take two years but Sanday says his team will not be
employing the technique of anastylosis, whereby a temple is taken down stone by stone
and reconstructed, a process carried out partially in Ta Prohm by French conservationists
Eventually, the entrance to Preah Khan will be from the eastern side, as it was originally,
rather than the west, where it is now.
The project employs and trains a workforce fluctuating between 12 and 90. Many are
students of architecture and archeology from the School of Fine Arts.
It operates under the World Monuments Fund, an American non-profit foundation that
specializes in the preservation of historic buildings around the world.
So far, the cost of conserving Preah Khan, which began in November after two years
of planning, has run to $200,000.
"This is an add-on," said Sanday of the temple up for adoption.