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A Khmer statue, believed to be looted from Koh Ker, is in the centre of a tussle at a Sotheby’s auction. The Cambodian government is now working to recover it.
Mythic Warrior Is Held Captive in an International Art Conflict
The New York Times, 28 February 2012
The last Koh Ker piece that is publicly accounted for, housed in the Denver Art Museum, is the process of being repatriated – undoubtedly due to the spate of high profile returns by museums abroad.
Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160130
Last Koh Ker piece coming home
Phnom Penh Post, 30 January 2016
In Visit, US Secretary of State Gave a Nod to Cambodian Antiquities
VOA Khmer, 29 January 2016
Cambodia is set to reclaim the last of the statues looted from the Koh Ker complex known to be kept in public collections, with a US museum agreeing to relinquish the piece from its permanent collection.
The statue of the warrior god Rama has been held by the Denver Art Museum for nearly 30 years. However, museum representatives said this week that the artefact will soon make its return to Cambodia, though an official agreement has not yet been reached.
The Rama torso – missing its head and its feet – remained on display in the museum’s Asian art gallery until last month.
“The Denver Art Museum is currently in the process of returning the 10th century Khmer sandstone sculpture to the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Christoph Heinrich, the museum’s director, wrote in an email to Post Weekend.
Full story here and here.
Cambodia is seeking to repatriate a second statue that was looted from the site of Koh Ker, which is now on display at the Norton Simon Museum in California.
Cambodia Is Seeking 2nd Statue
New York Times, 28 July 2012
16 November 2007 (Phuket Gazette) – Did you know you need a permit before taking Buddha images out of Thailand? I didn’t either. Shoppers looking for souvenirs in Thailand should take note then. While most of the images are cheap imitations, apparently some archaeological material may slip through, like how a Khmer sandstone head was seized from a departing tourist last year.
Seized Buddha images donated to Thalang museum
In a small ceremony at Phuket International Airport, Airport Customs officials yesterday handed over to the Thalang National Museum 93 Buddha images seized from departing tourists over the past year.
Phuket Airport Customs Director Ruthai Lertkietdamrong told the Gazette most of the images were seized from tourists who bought them from shops unaware that they needed permission from the Fine Arts Department to take them out of the country.
via The Nation, 12 September 2018: The team from China marks to completion of restorations to the Ta Keo temple in Angkor.
Construction of Ta Keo as a “state temple” began during the reign of Jayavarman V, a ruler during the Khmer Empire (802-1431). Covering 46,000 square meters, the site is generally considered one of the most magnificent temple-mountains in Angkor.The term temple-mountain refers to the style for the construction of state temples during the Khmer Empire, which was influenced by Indian temple architecture.”It’s important evidence showing the transition of architectural styles from the early-stage Angkor sites with typical Hindu characters from India to the later ones featuring local Buddhism,” Yuan said.Ta Keo is also believed to be the first temple built entirely from sandstone in the Khmer Empire.However, when the academy started restoration work, experts had to sift through tens of thousands of fallen stones and largely collapsed halls, corridors and turrets.”We had to find the right stones in the rubble and put them back,” Yuan said. “Everything has to be concise. But restoration is far more than putting the fallen stones back. The bulk of the work is done through detailed research before the engineers start.”
Source: China helps others restore heritage sites
via Khmer Times, 09 August 2017: More fragments of Buddha images have been found at the Tonle Snguot, which made the news last week because of the impressive discovery of a 6-foot tall sandstone guardian statue. The new fragments include a possible medicine Buddha.
Four sandstone remnants of Buddha statues dating back to the Jayavarman VII era discovered at an Angkor-era hospital site.
Source: Ancient Buddha remnants found – Khmer Times
The results of the latest Lidar campaign over Angkor and the other centres such and Sambor Pre Kuk and Banteay Chhmar promises many new research avenues.
What lies beneath
DPA, via The Nation, 11 July 2016
How archaeologists found the lost medieval megacity of Angkor
Ars Technica, 21 July 2016
Be prepared to sweat. Exploring the world’s largest religious complex in the Cambodian jungle is not for those who can’t take the heat. The sheer size of the gigantic edifices of Angkor Wat and the distances between them means long treks, in 40-degree heat and humidity as if in a sauna.
But then, what you get to see is stunningly unique. There are the monument-sized sandstone buildings, delicate carved bas-reliefs, and the strangler figs, huge snake-like plants creeping up the walls and buildings as if to swallow them up. Like in some enchanted forest.
It is almost impossible to believe that more than 800 years ago, in the heyday of the Khmer culture, hundreds of thousands of people lived in this merciless jungle setting.
But what archaeologist Damian Evans has now uncovered with the help of an airborne laser measurement technology called Lidar (light detection and ranging) explodes everything that was known heretofore.
Full stories here and here.
Phu Phra Bat Historical Park in Udon Thani Province Thailand is to be nominated at Thailand’s next World Heritage site. This ridge in northeast Thailand is reminiscent of Cambodia’s Phnom Kulen, and contains a long history of human occupation from prehistoric rock paintings, to remains of Dvaravati, Lopburi/Khmer and recently Lan Xang cultures. It is a beautiful landscape and I was really fortunate to have investigated some of the sites there as part of my PhD research.
U-sa’s Tower in Phu Phra Bat Historical Park. Source: The Nation, 20150127
Phu Phra Bat Park nominated for Unesco Heritage Site list
The Nation, 27 January 2015
Phu Phra Bat Park chosen for Unesco Heritage list
The Nation, 28 January 2015
The Culture Ministry has decided to nominate Udon Thani’s Phu Phra Bat Park as a Unesco World Heritage Site and will put the plan up for consideration at Parliament tomorrow.
Situated in Ban Phue district, the park features ruins and objects dating back to pre-historic times as well as to the Dvaravati, Lopburi, and Lan Xang periods.
The 1,200-acre site is located in the lush Phu Phra Bat Buabok Forest Park, where there are many peculiarly shaped rocks owing to slow-moving glaciers millions of years ago. Also, many of the ruins and objects – such as a rock shaped to look like a stupa and another chiselled to the shape of a foot – were not made entirely by hand.
Visitors can also admire the pre-historic paintings, sandstone images and idols. The Fine Arts Department declared the site a historical park in 1991.
Full story here and here.
Last month’s Archaeology Magazine has a feature on the archaeological features of Phnom Kulen, featuring the rock art site of Poeung Komnou – one of the sites that I investigated for my doctoral work.
Bas-relief of Poeung Komnou, Phnom Kulen. Archaeology, 201412
Archaeology, December 2014
Journey to Phnom Kulen [Video]
Archaeology, December 2014
The Bangkok Post has a video story on the Phimai Historical Park, a Khmer temple in Northeast Thailand.
Phimai Historical Park
Ruins of an empire
Bangkok Post, 13 November 2014