Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rare statue unearthed by Chinese developer

Rare statue unearthed by Chinese developer

Rare statue unearthed by Chinese developer

A Chinese-owned company in Preah Vihear’s Tbeng Mean­chey district stumbled across an 8th-century sandstone carving of the Buddha while excavating land there on Wednesday, the provincial culture department said yesterday.

Oug Vireak, a deputy with the culture department, said the firm Lan Feng had been bulldozing a two-metre-deep hole in the vicinity of the Yeak Phlok temple when they uncovered the pre-Angkorian relic, which measures 60 centimetres by 60 centimetres at the base and weighs some 50 kilograms.

“We came to investigate in the area, and we were able to confirm that it is a kind of sandstone [statue] which was made in the 8th century at the Yeak Phlok temple area,” Vireak said. “Now we are keeping it at the company before transferring it to the culture department.”

Moa Ri, director of the culture department’s heritage office, said that officials had requested that Lan Feng temporarily stop bulldozing in the area until experts are able to examine it further, noting that more antiquities could be buried there.

“The villagers gathered in this area and want to dig in it, but we could not allow them to,” he said. “We are afraid of them affecting the antiquities in the area. They are state property. No one can take them to another place or sell it.”

Ri also said that the company must notify culture authorities when they discover such archaeological artefacts.

Villagers have accused Lan Feng of clearing land without regard to the boundaries of their 9,000-hectare concession, and of failing to consider the concession’s impact on locals.

Yesterday, ethnic villager Phan Sokhet, 25, said that some 100 villagers had gathered to watch over the area overnight to ensure that the company did not abscond with any other still-buried relics.

“We are afraid the company would not report it to the authorities if they found some antiques, or would keep it secret,” he said. “That’s why we came to sleep here and keep watch. One worker from the company told us [about the statue]; that’s how we knew about it.”

Lor Chan, a coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said that villagers had “suggested the authorities take [the statue] right away to keep it at the Culture Department, not at the company office”.

However, Hau An Tak, an interpreter for Fan Leng, maintained that the company had no intention to steal any artefacts, and said the firm would comply with the Culture Department’s request to hold off on further excavations until experts had examined the site.

Tbeng Meanchey district governor Paing Yeat, meanwhile, said that authorities had stationed police to prevent anyone from disturbing the area.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Delta spreading in Kingdom

    Cambodia has so far detected more than 200 cases of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant, with 109 found on July 31 and August 1. The Ministry of Health has expressed deep concerns that the variant may have already reached communities and be spreading as some of the cases

  • US' Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines arrive

    The first batch of 455,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US touched down in Phnom Penh on the morning of July 30. They are part of the total 1,060,100 doses the US has pledged to provide to Cambodia through the World Health Organisation-led (

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four