Ancient ironwork at a site in Preah Vihear province that predates the civilisation of Angkor will fall within a new national park formed by royal decree last week.
More than 200 pre-Angkor era industrial sites have been discovered since 2010, but the newly created national park of Russey Treb in Preah Vihear’s Cheb district is the first such site to get official protection.
“The creation aims to maintain the cultural heritage of Russey Treb’s ancient ironwork industry, archaeology, history, environment . . . and to develop a cultural, historical and natural tourist attraction,” the royal decree reads.
Thuy Chanthourn, an archaeologist and deputy director of the Institute of Culture and Fine Arts at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the decree should help preserve the cultural and environmental treasures of Russey Treb.
“It is the first national park with ancient iron industry . . . there are millions of cubic metres of iron left, forests, many animals,” he said of the site, which he has dated to the mid-seventh century. “If there was no iron industry, there would have been no Angkor Wat,” Chanthourn said.