Sculptures Discovered at Khmer Temple in Cambodia

Sculptures Discovered at Khmer Temple in Cambodia

Sculptures Discovered at Khmer Temple in Cambodia

Archaeology specialists from the APSARA National Authority (ANA) are meticulously identifying the dozens of fragments and identifying them. ANA

Specialists from the APSARA National Authority (ANA) found more than they bargained for during a recent excavation, with more than 100 pieces of sandstone sculptures uncovered.

The ANA’s Department of Preservation and Archaeology was conducting the removal of built-up soil from south of the laterite stone wall of Ta Prohm Temple’s third enclosure, while cataloguing each of the stone fragments they discovered.

Ta Prohm is one of the most well-known of the Kingdom’s ancient temples, with the unique combination of soaring trees growing from the crumbling, yet still majestic stones lending an air of romantic exploration.

It is sometimes referred to as the “Tomb Raider Temple”, thanks to the fame it enjoyed as a location for Angelina Jolie’s 2001 eponymous film.

As the soil removal progressed, an unexpected number of significant pieces of ornate carvings were unearthed, some of them buried in as little as 10 to 15 centimetres of soil.

According to ANA archaeologist Neth Simon, the team recognised the importance of their finds, and immediately sought permission to expand the dig site.

One of the APASARA National Authority (ANA) team notes the precise measurements and features of one of the newly discovered national treasures. ANA

With the approval of the ANA leadership, more serious excavations were undertaken, leading to a treasure trove of rare pieces. Many of the statues are up to 50cm in height, and almost complete. A total of over 100 pieces have been identified, and are currently being measured, weighed and assessed.

According to Simon, some of the sculptures include seated and standing Buddhas, along with Nagas, the spiritual snake-like guardian of ancient Khmer legend.

She explained that although unconfirmed, many of the ANA’s experts have speculated that the statues were carved in the Bayon style, dating from the late 12th or early 13th century.

A close up image shows the detail one of the fragmented statues discovered near the Ta Prohm Temple. ANA

Long Kosal, ANA spokesperson, noted that there are many places in the park where fragments of ancient statues have been found. The pieces remain as clues to the daily lives of people from ancient times. 

“We don’t know what remains under the earth in this area. This is why it is necessary to preserve the location,” he said.

As the work continues, one thing is certain. The ancient structures of Siem Reap province’s Angkor Archaeological Park will continue to surprise the modern inhabitants of this ancient land.