The Phnom Penh Post has a feature on how looting of artefacts in Angkor Borei has become a cottage industry. It is heartbreaking to see on many levels – first, the locals do it in order to earn a bit of extra case but the cash isn’t that much at all. Secondly, this is a reminder to not buy artefacts, even from ‘reputed’ dealers in Thailand. They are almost certainly looted, and contributes nothing to the local economy.
Ancient treasures in the backyard
Phnom Penh Post, 08 August 2015
Angkor Borei – about 70km south of Phnom Penh – is thought to be the location of one of Southeast Asia’s earliest cities. But rather than being protected and studied, looting of the remaining artefacts has become a subsistence-level cottage industry for the current residents.
Cambodian antiquity and land laws deem all ancient artefacts state property, though Savorn said police turn a blind eye provided he keeps the digging on his own land.
While Sambath said most artefacts found their way to the global antiquities market via Thailand, Savorn said he had no idea who ultimately bought his wares. All he knew, he added, was that he sold the items to Khmer middlemen.
“The things that I find are not really valuable, only tiny bits of gold, and jars and pots I sell cheaply for around 3,000 to 4,000 riel,” he said, adding that the most he ever made was 50,000 riel ($12.50) from a gold piece.
Full story here.