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An­cient statue un­earthed at famed Cam­bo­dian tem­ple

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

PHNOM PENH, Cam­bo­dia — Ar­chae­ol­o­gists have un­earthed a large, cen­turiesold statue that is be­lieved to have once stood guard over an an­cient hos­pi­tal at the famed Angkor tem­ple com­plex.

The gov­ern­ment agency that over­sees the com­plex, the Ap­sara Au­thor­ity, said on its web­site that the 1.9-meter tall, 58-cen­time­ter wide statue, which is thought to be from the late 12th to the early 13th cen­tury, was dis­cov­ered on Sun­day.

It is one of the largest stat­ues from the era to be un­earthed in re­cent years.

In late 2011, ar­chae­ol­o­gists at the com­plex un­earthed the two largest Bud­dhist stat­ues found there in eight decades.

The Angkor Arche­o­log­i­cal Park, a World Her­itage site, con­tains the re­mains of the dif­fer­ent cap­i­tals of the Kh­mer Em­pire, dat­ing from the 9th to the 15 th cen­turies, and is Cam­bo­dia’s most pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion.

At the height of its power, the city and its hun­dreds of tem­ples boasted more than 1 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants, mak­ing it one of the world’s most pop­u­lous prein­dus­trial centers.

Huge swaths of the park have been ex­ca­vated over the decades, cre­at­ing a walk­a­ble ar­chae­o­log­i­cal won­der that at­tracts more than 2 mil­lion vis­i­tors a year.

But the com­plex re­mains a trea­sure trove for yet to be dis­cov­ered finds.

‘Beau­ti­ful’ body

Cam­bo­dian ar­chae­ol­o­gists and ex­perts from Sin­ga­pore’s In­sti­tute of South­east Asian Stud­ies found the statue buried 40 cen­time­ters un­der the ground dur­ing an ex­ca­va­tion of an Angkor-era hos­pi­tal built dur­ing the reign of King Jayavar­man VII.

The Ap­sara agency said the sand­stone statue’s arms and legs had bro­ken off but the carv­ing on the body and head “re­main beau­ti­ful” de­spite the pas­sage of time.

They said the statue was likely to have been a sym­bolic guardian of the hos­pi­tal.

Large num­bers of ar­chi­tec­tural and re­li­gious ar­ti­facts have been looted from the site and sold over­seas, while oth­ers were buried for safe­keep­ing dur­ing a civil war in the 1970s.

AP­SARA AU­THOR­ITY VIA AFP

Ar­chae­ol­o­gists ex­ca­vate a statue from the ground at the com­plex in Siem Reap prov­ince, Cam­bo­dia, on Sun­day.

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