Apsara National Authority acting director of the Department of Conservation of Monuments Outside Angkor Park, Chhean Ratha, said a project is underway to restore Damrei Krab temple in Phnom Kulen, Siem Reap province.
Over the years, roots, overgrown vegetation and thieves making off with pieces of the temple have damaged its structural integrity.
The project to restore the temple, located in Khnang Phnom commune’s Anlong Thom village, in Svay Leu district, began on July 20 and will be completed by December 31.
The ANA has decided to strengthen the decaying roof around the temple’s tower, repair the east gate and fill cracks in the wall.
Ratha said the Damrei Krab temple was badly damaged by rain and vegetation, which caused the foundation to collapse on the west side, causing many small and large cracks. Roots had grown into the wall, widening the cracks.
Moisture has also rotted the upper part of the temple and damaged the middle section.
Besides natural causes, thieves and smugglers have left their mark, stealing bits of bas relief and picking away at the temple’s foundations causing it to shift.
Ratha said: “In the past, there were studies [conducted] by French and Cambodians. E. Aymonier studied [the temple] in 1904, E. Lunet in 1911, H. Parmentier in 1927, P. Dupont in 1938, E. Hansen in 1969 and more recently, I am the one who studied the temple further since 2009.
“In 2015, the ANA, in collaboration with the Archaeology and Development Foundation (ADF) of Phnom Kulen, conducted excavations, research and studies of risk maps to aid the construction project.”
He said the temple is made of brick and features three towers built on a single hill with a wall around it.
Damrei Kreb is one of the many temples built in the Kulen style during the reign of King Jayavarman II (AD. 802-850) at the beginning of the Angkorian civilisation.
ANA spokesman Long Kosal could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
An ANA report released on July 30 said its deputy director-general Kim Sothin led a technical team to hold a traditional religious ceremony for the project on July 28.
The report said the project aimed to restore the temple to attract tourists and preserve it for future generations.