The Apsara National Authority (ANA) announced that their working group in charge of restoration work at Angkor Thom's Takav Gate or the West Gate recently found an ancient stone slab commonly known as a boundary stone.

The boundary stone is 53 cm by 53 cm and 12 cm thick and is covered with thin sheets of gold. It was found at the Takav Gate when the upper part of the gate’s structure was dismantled for restoration work.

“On the stone slab, there are many holes – a large round hole in the center of the stone surface, surrounded by square holes in all eight directions and in the northeast corner, which all have significance in traditional Khmer beliefs from ancient times to the present,” the ANA said.

Kim Sothin, deputy director-general of the ANA, said that most buried boundary stones were found in the middle area at the bottom of the temple, but they were mostly thicker than the stones found at the top.

He said that the beliefs about burying boundary stones were related to the construction of Khmer houses and were similar to the custom of having a red cloth known in Khmer as a yon attached to the middle of a newly-built roof in order to protect the house.

He said the stone slab was originally buried on the top of the central tower, but it slipped and fell down into the middle of the gate. Similar buried stones were found in some of the temple foundations at the Angkor site.

“This ancient slab contains nine holes on each side covered by thin sheets of gold and a hole in the center for plugging in a bronze trident handle. The ancestors used prayer incantations on such stones to make the temple foundations stronger, a practice depicted in the existing Bayon carvings,” Sothin said.

ANA’s restoration team will return the boundary stone to the top of the Takav Gate after the restoration work is complete. Various forms of boundary stones have also been found at the Elephant Terrace, Phnom Kulen, Banteay Srei temple, Banteay Kdei temple and Tonle Snguot temple, the ANA said.