The Ecole francaise d’Extreme-Orient (EFEO), or French School of Asian Studies – a cooperative partner with the Apsara National Authority (ANA) – handed over 146 cases of archaeological pieces to the ANA for preservation. The pieces will also be inventoried.
On May 11, the EFEO handed over the pieces, including 11 wooden pillars and one inscription stone, to the ANA via the Angkor International Centre for Research and Documentation at the ANA headquarters.
The ANA, a body tasked with managing the Angkor Archaeological Park, said the pieces were found during excavations from 2012 to 2017 during the restoration of the West Mebon temple.
Tin Tina, deputy director of the research centre, said this was not the first time the EFEO had handed over artifacts it found in the West Mebon temple, noting that it was the sheer number that was astonishing.
He said EFEO is not the only institution that has handed over artifacts found during the restoration and research work in the Angkor Park.
“In general, all of the international institutions that do restoration work or study in the park pass their finds to the ANA when their research is complete,” he said.
He added that should one of these institutions request the materials back to conduct further research, the ANA would certainly allow it.
ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post that the artifacts would be identified and catalogued.
“All artifacts must be handed over to the ANA so we can register their forms and where they were found. In the future, we may be able to match them with new discoveries,” he said.
Kosal said the ANA is currently working with international partners from India, France, Korea, China, Japan, the US, Germany and several others to search for artifacts in each part of the Angkor Park.
“All of these partners cooperate with us. All of our international partners share their discoveries with us,” he said.
According to the ANA, the archeological exhibits shared by the EFEO are primarily fragments of ceramic, soil for analysis, sandstone fragments and metal fragments of iron, copper and brass. There was also a wax Buddha statue placed in a large pot that had been buried many years ago.
The West Mebon temple was built in the middle of the 11th century by King Udayadityavarman II between 1049-1066 on a small island in the middle of the West baray. It was dedicated to Lord Vishnu.