Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Phum Snay ruined, other sites in danger

Phum Snay ruined, other sites in danger

Phum Snay ruined, other sites in danger

Archaeologists have warned that a major pre-Angkorian cemetery in Banteay Meanchey

province has been lost forever, and others are in extreme danger from looters.

The site at Phum Snay, said Dr Dougald O'Reilly of the archaeological faculty at

the Royal University of Phnom Penh, had been destroyed.

The loss of the other sites in the country's northwest, he said, would mean the destruction

of valuable information that could shed light on how Khmer society developed into

the complex Angkorian Empire.

He called on the government to make "every effort" to preserve these valuable

cultural sites.

"Phum Snay is already finished for archaeology," said O'Reilly. "It

is so badly looted [which] is a loss for science. To find anything substantial about

that site is impossible. We have lost all that information [and] will never be able

to understand this most important ancient civilization."

O'Reilly said that when he went to Phum Snay in January to excavate the site, he

witnessed people trading in looted artifacts.

"They sold to everyone - Cambodians and Thai," he said. "One kilogram

of iron artifacts costs one baht or one hundred riel. This is shocking. It's very

sad."

He later saw some artifacts from Phum Snay on sale in Phnom Penh's Russian Market.

Thuy Chanthourn, a lecturer at the faculty, said that although villagers living near

the site had ceased their looting, others had begun to dig at another cemetery. The

local authorities, he said, were powerless to stop them as the looters had military

protection.

O'Reilly's visit in January was his second to Phum Snay, which was found in May 2000.

The excavation work, which uncovered 14 graves, revealed items such as swords, ceramic

pots, spindle whorls, beads, semi-precious stones and bangles.

Both men and women were buried in the graves. Some were found with uniforms and decorations.

O'Reilly estimated that testing of samples sent to the UK would indicate the remains

were from between 300 and 600 A.D.

"I can say the people of Phum Snay were probably very wealthy and technically

advanced, and had many weapons such as big swords," O'Reilly said.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts will hold a press conference in late April

to release the results of the team's excavation work.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • NOCC to contest petanque, tennis axe

    The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia will lobby hard over the next few weeks for the inclusion of the Kingdom’s most productive medal-earning sport, petanque, along with vovinam and tennis after the disciplines were left out of the initial list of 30 preferred sports for