Excavations begin at Koh Ker

The ‘Tomb of the White Elephant’, an artificial hill outside the ruins of Koh Ker is the subject of a current archaeological investigation by the Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient.

A study of sacred places in ancient Cambodia: the Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient at work in Koh Ker

Ka-Set, via CAAI News Media, 24 March 2009

In the Northern Cambodian province of Preah Vihear, the eponymous temple acquired some international fame with its listing in July 2008 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and because of the border dispute with neighbouring Thailand around the area. However, another highly sacred place in the same province, which deserves some attention: the Koh Ker archaeological group, located 50 miles northeast of the Angkor complex, has long been inaccessible. A week ago, the Phnom Penh branch of the French Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) launched a campaign to excavate this exceptional site.

To Eric Bourdonneau, a lecturer at the EFEO and a professor at the Phnom Penh Faculty of Archaeology, the site is a remarkable group for many reasons, whether it be in terms of architecture, with its mount-temple culminating at 115ft, a record height, or in terms of iconography, as it introduces “narrative scenes via the staging of sculpture in the round [three-dimension sculpture] when up until then, temple iconography was limited to a few divine representations displayed in the narrow frame of the lintels and pediments of the structure.


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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.

One thought on “Excavations begin at Koh Ker”

  1. To whom it may concern,
    I am an Archaeologist currently travelling around South East Asia, and I would relish the opportunity to get involved in some archaeological projects whilst I am out here. I will be in Cambodia within the next 2 weeks, and I will have a months visa for this; however I will only be available to volunteer for a maximum of 2 weeks. Please email me for my CV and experiences.
    Kind Regards
    Aimee Bates

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