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Temple renovation nears completion

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The Bat Chum temple was built during the 10th century and has suffered significant damage due to erosion. Apsara National Authority

Temple renovation nears completion

The first phase of restoring the Bat Chum Temple in the Angkor Archaeological Parkwill be completed on Friday, Apsara National Authority spokesman Long Kosal said.

Work to restore the dilapidated temple began in July last year. It was built during the 10th century and had suffered significant damage due to erosion.

Kosal said repairing ancient temples is a very slow process and requires extreme care. Once the first phase of the restoration project ends on Friday, experts will study the results to decide on the next steps.

“We need time to observe and study the results, and then we will begin repairs again. Previously, we worked with specialists from other countries.

“But now, we work almost exclusively with Cambodian specialists. They have the expertise and the skills needed to repair ancient temples in the Angkor area,” he said.

Bat Chum Temple was built by Kavindrarimathana during the reign of Rajendravarman in the middle of the 10th century. The brick temple has three towers with sandstone terraces and was dedicated to Mahayana Buddhism.

The quality of the construction materials is one of the main reasons the temple is decaying so fast, said Doy Pich Chiva, a technical employee at the Apsara National Authority’s Department of Conservation of Monuments.

She described the temple’s current state as “dilapidated”. “Its bricks have severely eroded in many parts of the northern towers.

“The pillars to the east of the northern towers have broken and collapsed. The bricks in the roof and walls have cracked, eroded and decayed,” said Pich Chiva.

She said plants have grown between the bricks, and rainwater has seeped through the cracks, further decaying the towers. Also, nests of termites fill the cracks.

“We found old bricks and used them to repair the structure. We follow conservation standards set out in the Angkor Charter, including applying plaster according to the ancient formula. We employ those with years of experience in this type of work,” she said.

The north section of the temple, a particularly sensitive area, has been restored for the first time, Pich Chiva said, adding that cracks between the bricks have been filled to avoid further damage from seeping water.

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