Cambodia's Ministry of Culture says unable to stop sale of Khmer artefacts

It looks like Cambodia is unable to stop the sale of Khmer artefacts in other countries, or in eBay because such artefacts need to be ‘listed’ as an item of cultural heritage. But such an exercise in listing and inventorying requires far more resources than Cambodia can currently afford. Is this a loophole in the system that needs to be closed?

The Ministry of Culture Says It Is Not Able to Bring Back Khmer Artifacts Put Up for Sale in the United State of America
Deum Ampil, 10 March 2009, translated by the Cambodia Mirror.

A high-ranking official of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts stated that the Cambodian government is not able to bring back artifacts which are not listed here and lost, but are reported now in the United State of America and in some other countries.

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Mr. Chuch Phoeun, told Deum Ampil on Monday evening 9 March 2009, ‘The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts is not able to collect Khmer artifacts that are lost and not yet listed as Cambodian cultural heritage, even though those artifacts are claimed to be property of Cambodia.’


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

2 thoughts on “Cambodia's Ministry of Culture says unable to stop sale of Khmer artefacts”

  1. This is a huge loophole but considering how much money other countries have spent trying to get their cultural heritage back (e.g. Italy) it seems like it would be almost impossible. That money might be better spent by protecting and conserving archaeological sites and ensuring future sites aren’t looted. It’s a tough place to be in.

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