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Recent Discoveries from Angkor Wat and Srah Srang

While most of the world was in lockdown during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, archaeologists from the APSARA Authority in Cambodia were busy working on projects in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Mr. Im Sokrithy, Director of the Department of Conservation Monuments and Archaeology, gave a presentation on the recent discoveries from Angkor Wat and Srah Srang.

Most readers would be familiar with Angkor Wat, the most famous temple within the Angkor Archaeological Park which was built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II. In April 2020, a cache of Buddha fragments were discovered buried near the southwest corner of the main temple structure. The fragments were excavated by Mr. Srun Tech and Mrs. Phin Vachara Sachara of the APSARA Authority. Over the course of the 50-day excavation, 300 sculpture fragments were discovered. The fragments come from Buddha images dating from the 12th to the 19th century, and their clustering suggests they were placed there during a single event in recent times. They are currently stored at the museum for recording and analysis. In the future, there are plans to display these fragments either in the museum, or inside Angkor Wat again.

Elsewhere in the Angkor Archaeological Park, the APSARA Authority also attempted to restore the stone structure in the middle of Srah Srang, a royal pool located 3 km northeast of Angkor Wat. Srah Srang was built in the 10th century, but was renovated in the 13th century and was still in use in the 16-17th centuries. During the course of routine excavations prior to restoration, an “unbelievable” number of artefacts were discovered: thousands of crystal quartz lumps, sculptural fragments, and bronze tridents and quindents. This excavation was conducted by Dr. Ea Darith, Dr. Chea Socheat, Mr. San Kosal, Mr. Chouk Somala and Mr. Leng Sathya under the supervision of HE Kim Sothin. The most interesting finds were a pair of stone turtles, discovered in the northeastern corner of the excavation area.

The APSARA Authority continues to analyse the finds from these and other excavations presently, and we look forward to hearing more about them in the future.

If you watched the SPAFA SESH Recent Discoveries from Angkor Wat and Srah Srang, please complete the questionnaire (approximately 5 minutes) to help us improve future SPAFA SESHes: https://bit.ly/Evaluation-Form-SPAFA-SESH3-Angkor

Date: 20 July 2020

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11.30 a.m. (Phnom Penh/Bangkok time), 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Singapore Time)

Online Platform: Facebook Live https://www.facebook.com/seameo.spafa/ and on Zoom (Please register for Zoom link)

Earlier this year, several spectacular discoveries were made by research teams working at the Angkor Archaeological Park. Early in April 2020, archaeologists from the APSARA Authority accidentally discovered many hundreds of fragments from damaged Buddha statues in Angkor Wat. They were found during ground clearing around the third enclosures of the temple, near the foot of Mahabharata gallery, firstly two Buddha torsos. A research team investigated the site and excavated for an area of 15 square meters over 50 days, unearthing nearly 300 fragments of damaged Buddha statues dating from the 12th to 19th centuries. Additionally, the restoration team from the APSARA Authority has been working on a project to restore a stone structure in the middle of Srah Srang, the Royal Pool. During routine excavations to understand the extent of the structure to be repaired, APSARA archaeologists found extraordinary artefacts: more than ten thousand of colourless crystal quartz; thousands of fragments of stone carvings; metal objects; wooden structure remains on base of stone structure; and a pair of stone turtles.

Guest Speaker: Im Sokrithy, Director, Department of Conservation Monuments and Archaeology, APSARA Authority

Moderator: Dr Noel H. Tan, SEAMEO SPAFA Senior Specialist in Archaeology

[Discussion will be conducted in English]

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