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 FranÃ§aise d’ExtrÃªme-Orient.
A study of sacred places in ancient Cambodia: the Ecole franÃ§aise d’ExtrÃªme-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 FranÃ§aise d’ExtrÃªme-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 â€œnarrative 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.