Tracking the looted statues of Koh Ker

UNESCO’s Anne LeMaistre and APSARA’s conservator for Koh Ker, Sueng Kong. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20140523

A feature about the statues of Koh Ker, and how various agencies have been working to find the missing statues of Koh Ker, culminating in the several high-profile repatriations from the US.

The relics of Koh Ker
Phnom Penh Post, 23 May 2014

When archaeologists chose to dig around two stone pedestals at the western entrance of Prasat Chen in Koh Ker temple complex in August 2012, it was a turning point in Cambodia’s search for its lost antiquities.

The uncovered pedestals had already been identified as bases for missing statues of Bhima and Duryodhana, figures from the Mahabharata Hindu epic.

Archaeologists from the APSARA Authority, the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient (EFEO) and UNESCO had compared them with characters in a decorated tablet above a doorway from Banteay Srei temple in the Angkor complex and suspected that the western entrance, or gopura, at Prasat Chen might have once been home to the same characters.

They were correct. In their excavation, they unearthed seven more pedestals, meaning that there had originally been seven more statues that had been looted from the spot.

Full story here.

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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.

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