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Expert urges gov’t to save site

Machinery used to excavate clay sits near a storage building in Siem Reap province this month
Machinery used to excavate clay sits near a storage building in Siem Reap province this month. An archaeologist has called for the government to protect an ancient Angkorian-era canal from local industries. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Expert urges gov’t to save site

An archaeologist is pleading the government to save an Angkorian-era canal before the work of brick makers completely erases the site.

Built nearly 1,000 years ago, the 120-kilometre stone channel was used to transport building materials from a quarry to Angkor Wat, according to archaeologist Thuy Chanthourn, deputy director of the Institute of Culture and Fine Arts.

Chanthourn submitted a six-page report about the destruction to Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, the director of the Apsara Authority and the director of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts last week.

“It is unacceptable destruction. I am so sorry since this ancient canal, which remains from our ancestors, should be taken care of instead of being ruined,” Chanthourn said.

Brick builders in Siem Reap’s Sotr Nikum district have dug up various segments of the canal, clearing the ancient ruins to make way for roads and houses, according to the copy of the archaeologist’s report sent to the Post.

At either end of the ancient canal, where 8-metre-high dams used to stand, the villagers have excavated to build kilns, according to Chanthourn.

“The most dangerous destruction is due to the brick kilns, which are located on the dams. These will definitely damage the national historical evidence completely,” he wrote.

But Dith Dorn, district council member and former Sot Nikum district governor, said that the kilns have already been banned.

“Those kilns were set up without any permission,” the former district governor said. “Since the people have lived there for generations it is hard to ban them.”

The current district governor said the area is the responsibility of the Apsara uthority, and that excavation has been prohibited along the canal since 2009.

Chau Sun Kérya, Apsara Authority spokeswoman, denied that the area where brick kilns are located is under the agency’s control but said that the organisation would nevertheless investigate following from the report.

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