A appeal to help with the archaeology of the recent past: a team of forensic anthropologists needs funds to analyse the skeletal remains held at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, more commonly known as the Killing Fields, and to upgrade the storage facilities. This fundraising appeal covers an important gap that is left out from other grants: the salaries of the Cambodian researchers who will be working on the recovery, stabilisation and documentation of the bones. Please lend your support to this very worthy cause!
Krang Ta Chan (ក្រាំងតាចាន់) is one of nearly 20,000 mass gravesites throughout Cambodia resulting from the Khmer Rouge violence in the late 1970s. Krang Ta Chan was a Khmer Rouge detention center and execution site, and when the graves were excavated, over 10,000 victims were discovered. The site has been turned into a memorial where the bones of the victims have been collected. However, the rain, humidity, and extreme heat are causing rapid deterioration of the bones.
Additionally, the evidentiary importance of these remains have not been realized. The bones have not been scientifically analyzed, which would provide important information about the traumatic injuries sustained by victims and contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the Khmer Rouge era. The Krang Ta Chan Project Team, led by Mr. Vuthy Voeun, a Director within the Cambodian Ministry’s of Culture and Fine Arts, plans to analyze these remains and preserve them for future generations as evidence of the violence that transpired in Cambodia.
Visitors to Phnom Penh may already have gone to see the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek, but the site also holds significant archaeological value: the remains of kilns have been found there, but the quick development in the area means that much of this archaeology is being lost.
Excavation at the Choeung Ek kiln site. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20150214
Archaeological site at the Choeung Ek killing fields under threat as fast-paced urbanisation takes its toll on the area
Buried in the dirt at the Choeung Ek killing fields, among the skeletal remains of Pol Pot’s victims, are far more ancient relics: black, red and brown ceramic shards that have added a crucial page to Phnom Penh’s early history.
The discovery of 69 pottery kilns in the early 2000s by archaeologist Phon Kaseka indicated that an industrious community established itself in the fifth century, about a thousand years before Phnom Penh became the capital.
In this series of weekly rojaks (published on Wednesdays) Iâ€™ll feature other sites in the blogosphere that are of related to archaeology in Southeast Asia. Got a recommendation for the next Wednesday rojak? Email me!
Also, do drop by the SEAArch bookstore for a selection of books related to the archaeology of Southeast Asia!