Proof giants walked among us humans?

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A silk-cotton tree grows inside the Ta Prohm Temple, popular with tourists for its jungle atmosphere, in November 2007 near Siem Reap. VOISHMEL/AFP

Proof giants walked among us humans?

For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal, such as a rhino or a croc. But if they are of the dinosaur – the kind with broad plates on its backs and spiked tails – one thing scientists do agree on: It is not proof that the giant creature – which paleontologists believe became extinct 65 million years ago – and humans lived together simultaneously.

However, the opinion of experts is unlikely to change the mind of proponents of Creationism, the religious belief that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. According to a recent story in the British tabloid the Daily Star, Creationists have jumped on the theory that the bas relief carvings depict the prehistoric giants and point to it as proof that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time, thus confirming their theory of the Earth’s age.

The Daily Star cited an excerpt from an article in UFO Sighting Footage, a periodical popular with Creationists, saying that “anything before 1800 AD that depicts a dinosaur or what we consider a dinosaur to look like shouldn’t exist.”

Atlas Obscura, an American online magazine that writes about curious travel destinations, was willing to at least entertain the Creationists’ theory.

“Maybe the carving is evidence that dinosaurs really did live on until much later than previously thought. (Creationists would certainly like to believe so),” the outlet wrote in an article on the carvings.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
For years experts have debated whether the carving in the centre depicted a dinosaur or a more contemporary beast. Meas Sovannaroth

“Perhaps here in the humid, ancient jungles of Southeast Asia, where the climate has remained largely unchanged since the dinosaurs’ days, giant reptiles lived on well into the human era – long enough to persist in the Khmer folk-memory.”

Meanwhile, Long Kosal, Apsara Authority spokesman, did not know exactly what the mysterious carvings depict.

“I really don’t know,” Kosal said. “There is no evidence that they were dinosaurs. They could be crocodiles or iguanas.”

However, Thuy Chanthoul, a professor of archaeologist at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said he believes they are depictions of dinosaurs, but not for the reasons Creationists have clung to the belief.

“We’ve known about [the carvings] for a very long time,” he said. “They were Stegosaurusi, an herbivore dinosaur, with faces similar to rhinoceroses’. From what I know, they were the only carving to be found so far.”

This carving, he added, proved that the people who built the temple understood the natural world and evolution.

“The builders of Angkor Wat were also scientists,” Chanthoul said. “Obviously, they knew how to cut stones and melt the steel … The ancient Khmer engineers practised real science.”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A close-up of the carving that may depict a dinosaur. Meas Sovannaroth

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • EU timber deal in firing line

    A committee of more than 20 national and international organisations filed a petition to the EU on October 10 to prevent it from signing a timber trade agreement with Vietnam, noting that the deal would be disastrous to the Kingdom’s forests. The petition claims Vietnamese timber

  • PM: Programme to recover Vietnam War missing back on

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced the resumption of the MIA programme to recover the remains of American service personnel missing after action on Cambodian soil during the Vietnam War. The programme was suspended for more than a year after the US government imposed visa

  • Drug prevention fight a cross-border effort, Mekong countries confirm

    Vientiane Times/ANN: Representatives from Laos, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam gathered in Vientiane on Friday for the opening of a centre that will foster close cooperation and support for the fight against illicit drugs in the region. The opening ceremony for the Safe