According to a report in The Phnom Penh Post, two pieces of a six-foot-tall statue of a lion were unearthed by mine-clearing experts preparing the site of a new groundwater reservoir along the Tonle Sap River.
The crew members excavated and cleared mines for a planned groundwater reservoir that will also be the site of Phnom Penh’s sixth water pumping station. It is located along the Tonle Sap River in front of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, according to Ratana.
After digging the soil up to 4 m underground lion statue was discovered, separated into two parts. At the National Museum, the Ministry will retain it, “he added.
Ratana said it is not CMAC’s duty to care for the statue, so the organization will leave it to the proper authorities to preserve it.
The director-general for tangible heritage at the ministry, Hab Touch, told The Post on Tuesday that he had not seen the statue yet. A press release he received said the statue resembles the lion statue at Wat Phnom.
But Touch said: “I don’t think it’s a lion from Wat Phnom because that lion is large. Its location means there must be something there like a bridge.”
Phnom Penh Department of Culture director Chum Vuthy told The Post on Tuesday that the ministry hasn’t studied the statue yet.
“This matter should be brought to the museum and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, which took this statue to study it. There is an experiment center in the museum,” he said.
National Museum director Chhay Visoth told The Post that he cannot make any assumptions about which era the stone lion was made in because experts needed time to check the composition of the ancient stone.
“We cannot make assumptions of the lion that we found during mine clearance for the reservoir plan because we don’t have any connections regarding this statue.
“Normally, we can know the date of an artefact by identifying other things around it,” he said.
Viosth said it’s suspected that the lion was created at the same time as Wat Phnom or sometime after Cambodia was a French protectorate.
He said the statue also could have been taken from other areas such as Angkor.
“We suspect that it could have been from the Bakheng Mountain area because its height is 2m. We need time to study and date it,” he said.
High-Tech Equipment Leads to Discovery of Lost City in Cambodian Jungle
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world flock to Cambodia to visit the famous Angkor Wat temple. But it appears that there may soon be new sites to visit, as research has revealed details of medieval cities under the jungle.
Wissenschaftler used laser technology to shed new light on the civilization behind the biggest religious complex in the world. During the time of investigations for several years, new findings reveal a much larger scale than was previously thought of in the urban expanse and temple complexes of the Khmer Empire.
Using high-tech lasers to scan the Cambodian jungle, Damian Evans and colleagues say they found traces of extensive networks surrounding the monumental stone temple complex at Angkor Wat. Evans said their findings could further our understanding of Khmer culture and throw into question traditional assumptions about the 15th-century decline of the empire.
Evans said a laser technology known as lidar was used to create precise maps of ancient networks that left only vague traces – invisible to the naked eye – in the landscape surrounding the temples.
‘You could be standing in the middle of the forest looking at what appear to be some random lumps and bumps,’ Evans said.
But they might actually be evidence of old excavated ponds or built-up roadways,’ he explained. ‘All of these things left traces on the surface of the landscape that wouldn’t make sense to you without a more detailed picture. To obtain such details, Evans said his colleagues spent 90 hours in a helicopter directing laser scans into the jungle surrounding Angkor Wat.
He said that the resulting images are so intricate ‘you can see objects lying next to a tiny anthill.’ The research was published Monday in the Journal of Archaeological Science. It was the result of a joint project including the French Institute of Asian Studies in Paris, the Cambodian national authority responsible for protecting Angkor Wat and the ministry of culture and fine arts.
For years, experts have assumed that the ancient Khmer civilization collapsed in the 15th century when invading Thai armies sacked Angkor Wat, forcing populations to relocate to southern Cambodia. But Evans said their laser maps showed no evidence of relocated, dense cities in the south and that it wasn’t clear there was any such mass migration.
Chanratana Chen, a Cambodian academic at the University of Sorbonne in Paris, said the new findings had changed his own perception of the Angkor Wat temple complex, which the Cambodian people commonly refer to as ‘the small city.’ Chen was not involved in the new research.
‘The new results (show) us that Cambodia was a much more advanced civilization than we thought, especially about the management plan of the city and irrigation system to improve agriculture in the area,’ Chen wrote in an email.
Among the most noteworthy discoveries, Evans and colleagues had found were proof of medieval sandstone quarries and traces of a royal road between various temple complexes, he said.
Evans doubted tourists would soon be flocking to see the unremarkable ‘mounds in the ground’ that the lasers had decoded at Angkor Wat. But said he and colleagues have now pinpointed sites that might be fruitful for further excavation.
He said it was likely there could be similar such discoveries elsewhere in Southeast Asia, possibly in Burma and even the Americas, where archeologists might unearth more secrets about the remains left behind by the 6th-century Mayan Empire.
Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is considered one of the ancient wonders of the world. It was constructed from the early to mid-1100s by King Suryavarman II at the height of the Khmer Empire’s political and military power and was among the largest pre-industrial cities in the world.
The new findings build on scans that confirmed the existence of Mahendraparvata, an ancient temple city near Angkor Wat. However, until now, the sheer scale of the settlements was unknown.
Mr. Evans said: ‘What we had was basically a scatter of disconnected points on the map denoting temple sites. Now it’s like having a detailed street map of the entire city.’
Further maps will be published in the coming months.
Long Kosal, a spokesman for the Apsara Authority, the government body that manages the Angkor complex, said the lidar had uncovered ‘a lot of information from the past.’
He said: ‘It shows the size and information about people living at those sites in the past,’ but added that further research was now needed to capitalize on the finds.
While the Khmer Empire was initially Hindu it increasingly adopted Buddhism and both religions can be seen on display at the complex. Angkor is visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors a year and remains Cambodia’s top tourist attraction.
Underwater robot finds shipwreck with treasure worth up to $17B
Researchers have released new details about the discovery of a centuries-old shipwreck holding up to $17 billion worth of sunken treasure off the coast of Colombia. Just don’t ask them to mark the spot with an “X” on any map.
The Spanish galleon San Jose, often called the “Holy Grail of shipwrecks,” was found off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia in November 2015, using a specialized robot, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said.
WHOI scientists worked with the Colombian government and the Maritime Archeology Consultants group to find the wreck, although it took them some time to confirm that it was actually the San Jose.
MAC allowed the WHOI researchers to announce their role in the project this week, although Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos previously tweeted about the shipwreck discovery in 2015.
The famed 64-gun, the three-mast vessel was sunk by a British ship in 1708, sending it to the bottom of the ocean with its cargo hold loaded full of gold, silver, and emeralds.
Its location has long been a mystery and subject of fascination, but in the end, it was a submersible robot – not a treasure-hunter – that found it.
Researchers first detected the ship on sonar and used a remote submersible, dubbed the REMUS 6000, to investigate it further.
The REMUS 6000 captured a slew of images showing the San Jose to be mostly buried in sediment, at a spot some 600 meters below the surface.
Researchers say they knew it was the San Jose when they saw photos of its distinctive bronze cannons, which are engraved with dolphin designs.
“With the camera images from the lower altitude missions, we were able to see new details in the wreckage and the resolution was good enough to make out the decorative carving on the cannons,” expedition leader Mike Purcell, a WHOI engineer, said in a news release. “MAC’s lead archaeologist, Roger Dooley, interpreted the images and confirmed that San Jose had finally been found.”
The exact location of the wreck remains a Colombian state secret.
Colombia says it will set up a museum to display artifacts from the wreck. However, don’t expect to see a pile of sunken treasure in that museum anytime soon.
The fate of San Jose’s treasure remains unclear, as there have been several lawsuits in recent decades over who has a claim to it.
Every piece of that treasure will remain on the seafloor, at least until the legal battle is won.
Rare Turtle Statue Found Submerged in Angkor Reservoir
Archaeologists in Cambodia have discovered a massive, century-old turtle statue in the temple complex of Angkor.
On Wednesday, a carved, 56 by 93 centimeters (22-by-37 inches) carved stone turtle believed to date from the 10th century was discovered during digging at what was the site of a small temple that had been built on Srah Srang, one of Angkor’s several reservoirs.
Researchers pinpointed where the temple had been and workers drained the water off to enable the dig, which began March 16, said Mao Sokny, head of the excavation team of the Apsara Authority, a government agency that oversees the Angkor archaeological site.
The bottom half of the turtle remained buried Thursday while preparations were being made to lift it out without damaging it.
Angkor was strongly influenced by Hindu culture, and as a result, when a temple or other important structure was built, sacred objects would often be buried in the ground underneath as a gesture to ensure safety and good fortune.
In several Asian cultures, turtles are seen as symbols of longevity and prosperity.
The Glories of a Temple Submerged in the Angkor Reservoir
According to The Star, ‘the remnants of the temple can be seen peeking over the waterline in the dry season’. Srah Srang is completely submerged during Cambodia’s wet season.
It appears that at some date the artificial island upon which the structure was built sank into the sediment of the Angkor reservoir or baray.
This temple is believed to date to the 9th or 10th century AD and was rebuilt by King Jayavarman VII.
It was built in the Khmer style of architecture that was influenced by South Indian buildings.
Some of the original landing points that were built to allow people to access the temple can still be seen. Archaeologists have unearthed a burial site with the cremated remains of many individuals near the sunken temple.
The Kandal Srah Srang temple was once one of the many wonders of Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat was the capital of the Khmer Empire, which was the dominant power in South East Asia for much of the Medieval era.
It was an Indianized kingdom and was heavily influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism. This Empire collapsed in the 15th century because of environmental factors and foreign invasions.
A Glimpse into Khmer Rituals and Ceremonies
The Hindu-Buddhist culture of the Khmer Empire is crucial in helping experts to understand the turtle statue. Similar objects have been found at Khmer temples such as Lor Ley, but the one found at Sran Srang is much larger.
Chea Socheat told The Khmer Times that “The turtle is known as one of the avatars of the Hindu god, Vishnu.” Depictions of turtles were often ritual offerings and they were placed in the center or foundations of temples.
However, experts cannot definitively state if this was the case for this particular statue, though they believe the sculpture may have been used as part of some religious ritual or celebration.
The Khmer Times quotes Chea Socheat as saying that “Our recent discovery can help explain the history of the temple, including the religious ceremonies that were once performed here.”
There have been many archaeological studies of the site but there have been no systematic investigations based on the objects unearthed.
Thus, this rare find in the Angkor reservoir could help experts to better understand the culture and religion of the Khmer Empire.
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA—Reports that 141 statue fragments were uncovered in Angkor Wat by Apsara Authority workers who were installing an irrigation system.
The statue fragments are thought to make up 21 Buddha statues, although no heads have been recovered.
“The statues were buried and mixed up with some modern items, including a metal door frame, glass shrapnel, a bicycle bell and rim, and even plastic bags,” said project manager Srun Tech, who thinks the statues were buried in the 1960s or 1970s.
The Apsara Authority said yesterday that more than 100 remains of statues of Buddha were discovered by archeological experts from Angkor Wat Province in Siem Reap.
Srun Tech, manager of the Apsara Authority’s excavation project at Angkor Wat temple, said the artifacts were discovered accidentally on Saturday by the Apsara Authority’s working team, who were implementing an irrigation system management project in the area.
An excavation operation has since unearthed 141 remnants of Buddha figurines, equivalent to 21 whole statues.
“We have mostly found Buddha statues – 21, so far. The statues were buried and mixed up with some modern items, including metal door frame, glass shrapnel, bicycle bell, and rim and even plastic bags. were mostly broken, with no heads attached, prompting the archaeologists to suspect the missing parts could have been buried deeper.
Judging by the way the statues were orderly buried, Mr. Tech said the artifacts may have been buried intentionally to avoid being detected by other people.
“The recent discovery underscores the fact that the Angkor Wat is still an important target for further research,” he said.
I’m Sokrithy, head of Conservation of Monuments in the Angkor Park Department, said as of yesterday, the Apsara Authority’s working group has excavated 40 centimeters of land at the site.
The excavation work will continue to be carried out, including further studies on the era from when the statues were made and the purpose behind the burying of the relics.
In late March, the Apsara Authority’s working team also discovered a wooden structure of more than 1,000 years of age and a Ganesh statue in the middle of the Angkor Wat temple’s northern pond while experts were restoring the pond.
Statue Fragments Found Near Cambodia’s Bayon Temple
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA— The large statue fragments have been recovered from a canal near the Gate of the Dead at Angkor Thom by members of Cambodia’s Department of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology, the heritage police, and agents from the Apsara Authority.
“The god statue found by the working team has four pieces, while another giant statue has only the back part without a face,” said Chhouk Somala of the Department of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology.
Two sandstone heads of tug-of-war statues have been spotted and brought out from a canal near the Gate of the Dead. This was found today on the eastern side of Siem Reap province’s Bayon temple.
Chhouk Somala, an officer in charge of archaeological registration at the Department of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology said, two heads of statues including one god and a giant of the tug-of-war statue at the Gate of the Dead, have been found by the department’s working team, heritage police, and Apsara Authority’s travel agents.
He added, “The god statue found by the working team has four pieces, while another giant statue has only the back part without a face.”
The finding of the two statues was not accidental because the general structures of the tug-of-war statue have been damaged due to the age of the structure, natural forces, and war which made some of those statues fall into the water and get buried in the ground.
Long Kosal, Apsara Authority spokesman, said archaeologists in the past have also discovered the sandstone statues at some sites in the Angkor Archaeological Park, and have been brought to the Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum for study and preservation.
“After taking these two statues out of the water, our working team has brought it to the Department of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology to register them as art objects, repair and conduct further studies before handing them over to be artifacts in the museum,” he said.
There are carvings found in the Angkor Wat temples that seem to resemble dinosaurs.
By the time that our ape ancestors split from the line that would produce chimpanzees, which happened about 4 million to 7 million years ago, non-avian dinosaurs had been extinct for more than 58 million years.
Birds, the descendants of one group of small theropod dinosaurs, are the only dinosaurs that survived the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. There are a number of people who reject the scientific view, however, and insist that humans and dinosaurs once lived together within the last 10,000 years or so.
These “young Earth creationists” twist Biblical passages to support their view that Tyrannosaurus rex lived peacefully in the Garden of Eden. They also supplement their beliefs with some rather spurious evidence—like a carving found on a Cambodian temple.
It is not known precisely when the carving was first noticed, but during the past several years, creationist groups have been a-twitter about a supposed carving of a Stegosaurus on the popular Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia. (The story recently reappeared on the “All News Web” site, an internet tabloid that specializes in tales of UFOs and other humbugs.) Since the temple was built around the end of the 12th century, some take this bas relief to suggest that Stegosaurus, or something Stegosaurus-like, survived until a few hundred years ago.
While certainly not proving their view that dinosaurs and humans were created together less than 10,000 years ago, it is consistent with their beliefs and is a favorite piece of evidence among creationists.
There is a substantial problem, however. Not only does creationism distort nature to fit a narrow theological view, but there is also no evidence that the carving in question is of a dinosaur.
If you look at the carving quickly and at an angle, yes, it does superficially look like a Stegosaurus than a kindergartener made out of play-doh.
As anyone who has spent time watching the clouds go by knows, though, an active imagination can turn something plain into something fantastic. If viewed directly, the carving hardly looks Stegosaurus-like at all. The head is large and appears to have large ears and a horn.
The “plates” along the back more closely resemble leaves, and the sculpture is a better match for a boar or rhinoceros against a leafy background.
Even so, the sculpture only vaguely looks like a rhino or boar. We can be certain that it is not a representation of a living Stegosaurus, but could it be a more recent attempt at depicting a dinosaur? Indeed, it is quite possible that this carving has been fabricated.
There are many sculptures at the temple, and the origin of the carving in question is unknown. There are rumors that it was created recently, perhaps by a visiting movie crew (the temple is a favorite locale for filmmakers), and it is possible that someone created something Stegosaurus-like during the past few years as a joke.
Either way, the temple carving can in no way be used as evidence that humans and non-avian dinosaurs coexisted.
Fossils have inspired some myths (see Adrienne Mayor’s excellent book The First Fossil Hunters), but close scrutiny of geological layers, reliable radiometric dating techniques, the lack of dinosaur fossils in strata younger than the Cretaceous, and other lines of evidence all confirm that non-avian dinosaurs became extinct tens of millions of years before there was any type of culture that could have recorded what they looked like.
As scientist Carl Sagan said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, and in the case of modern dinosaurs the evidence just isn’t there.
Officials and historians from the Siem Reap Provincial Department of Environment conducting research on a large Makara animal statue carved on a rock at the Phnom Kulen National Park in Siem Reap province’s Svay Loeu district.
Sun Kong, the Provincial Environmental Department director said yesterday that a resident discovered the head section of the broken statue and officials visited the site on Sunday.
He added that the statue was made of sandstone during the sixth century and the body was broken into pieces, noting that officials found 13 pieces of the body nearby the site.
Mr Kong said: “According to the experts, this Makara animal statue is one that we have never seen before. It is approximately 2.14 meters in length and about 0.97 meters high.
We have not yet moved the body parts or excavated the head from the site and have told park rangers in the area to guard it in order for officials from relevant ministries and institutions to come and study in detail about the site’s history and reconstruct the pieces.”
He noted that experts have not found a foundation of any temple at the site and believe it was just carved out on the rock.
Chhim Samrithy, 38, a craftsman from the province who discovered the statue, said yesterday he spotted it on Saturday while searching for bamboo.
“I usually walk in the forest to look for some unique and sacred objects and suddenly spotted this rare statue,” he said. “After seeing it, I took environmental officials and archaeologists to the site and also helped to find some of the missing pieces of the statue.”
Long Kosal, Apsara Authority spokesman, said that the authorities’ archeologists visited the site yesterday and will conduct additional studies to add it to the records.
He said: “The Kulen National Park area is rich in ancient artifacts, both above and below the ground. Therefore, I urge people, especially those living in the area, to avoid excavating or clearing archeological sites. If they find ancient objects, please report to the authorities for research to be done to preserve them for future generations.”