Supported by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Apsara Authority archaeologists are excavating the northern pond at Angkor Wat temple to learn more about its ancient structure. Once the research is complete, the pond will be restored and beautified.
Apsara Authority spokesperson Long Kosal told The Post on Monday that the archaeologists are looking to study the pond’s structure and foundations, which were built hundreds of years ago.
The authority issued a statement in February saying the work would commence on February 20 but did not at the time know when the project would be completed or what the total budget would ultimately be.
“Our archaeologists want to learn more about the pond’s design and structure, especially regarding the layers of rock in its foundations. They hope to discover what tools and materials our ancestors used."
“The pond used to be deeper than it is now, because soil flows in and settles, making it shallower. The pond actually serves no specific purpose, but tourists love it and enjoy taking pictures of the temple’s reflection in the water,” Kosal said.
Draining the pond
He said all the water must be removed during the archaeological excavation, and it will be allowed to dry before the work can begin.
Once the archaeological studies are completed, he said, experts will restore the pond to preserve its “valuable ancient heritage”.
Voeun Vuthy, the Archaeology and Prehistory Department director at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, told The Post on Monday that he was not involved in the excavation because it is the responsibility of sub-national authorities.
However, he supported the project’s aims to research the pond and document it for future generations.
“The excavation will not affect the temples because they are only studying the pond’s infrastructure. Several years ago, experts from France excavated one side of the pond and now we will excavate the other side to understand it even more."
“After the excavation, if nothing important is found, we will restore the pond and make it deeper,” he said.
The Apsara Authority statement on February 15 said: “The Department of Conservation of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology will commence the excavation on February 20 with one aim being to continue to provide the opportunity for Cambodian and international visitors to take pictures of Angkor Wat temple reflecting in the water."
“The Apsara Authority has already completed work on the southern ponds and restored the water level to its maximum height”.
The authority said while the archaeological work is ongoing, some parts of the ancient ponds will be closed off to the public to enable the team of archaeologists to conduct their research.