Ancient statue unearthed at famed Cambodian temple
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.
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.
Archaeologists excavate a statue from the ground at the complex in Siem Reap province, Cambodia, on Sunday.