Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pre-Angkorian trove of artefacts found in Kandal



Pre-Angkorian trove of artefacts found in Kandal

Chhel Chhorn, the monk who tipped experts off about the site, poses with a fragment of an ancient crucible. Photo supplied
Chhel Chhorn, the monk who tipped experts off about the site, poses with a fragment of an ancient crucible. Photo supplied

Pre-Angkorian trove of artefacts found in Kandal

The discovery of hundreds of ancient artefacts – most likely spanning several eras – at a pagoda outside of Phnom Penh this month could shed new light on the poorly understood pre-Angkorian period, a Royal Academy of Cambodia archaeologist said yesterday.

“These finds are the historical evidence for our Khmer-ness,” said Thuy Chanthuon, deputy director of the academy’s Institute of Culture and Fine Arts, who is analysing the findings from the Preah Neak pagoda, located on a hill about 30 kilometres from Phnom Penh in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district.

The artefacts, which included a copper seal buried with a sword, dozens of apparently pre-Angkorian stone tools and coins from the early 1900s, were found just 2 metres or less below the surface.

“The best item is the seal,” said Chanthuon. “It is from the Oudong era, between 300 and 400 years old. The seal and metal sword were likely buried with a man who must have had a high position in the society, [like] an oknha or provincial governor.”

However, Chanthuon said he was only speculating because, due to a lack of funds, he had not been able to conduct a proper excavation or carbon-date any of the finds.

A collection of ancient stone crucibles recovered from a pagoda in Kandal province earlier this month. Photo supplied
A collection of ancient stone crucibles recovered from a pagoda in Kandal province earlier this month. Photo supplied

Chanthuon, who is also working on a project in Preah Vihear province documenting ancient iron production sites, lamented the difficulty of acquiring funding for pre-Angkorian projects.

“The government is not interested in these artefacts very much. They’re interested only in Angkor,” he said.

Heng Sophady, deputy director of cultural heritage at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said that the ministry did not have plans to fund an excavation of the site.

“As far as, I know, the Ministry of Culture does not have plans to excavate this site. But we work with local authorities to protect them,” he said via email, referring to the local monks.

Chhel Chhorn, the monk who tipped off Chanthuon about the site, said people had been finding ancient relics in the pagoda and surrounding Chhork Chheu Neang commune for years.

“Almost everywhere in this village there are ancient artefacts,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism