At least 911 ancient historical sites have been discovered across Banteay Meanchey province since 2019, including ancient temples, graveyards, man-made ponds and roads, according to the provincial department of culture and fine arts.
Provincial department of Culture and Fine Arts director Yong Taing Koy told The Post on September 13 that the department had discovered ancient sites one after another through increased cooperation with local authorities and especially the cadastral department.
The discoveries have now been registered with the provincial department of culture and fine arts and placed under their management.
He said the ministry had advised all departments across the country to research and report on the discovery of any sites of interest.
Before 2019, the provincial department had discovered 200 ancient sites and all of them had been registered, but the names of the sites were unknown. They were mostly built between the 9th and 11th centuries.
“For this year, we worked for five months straight until the start of the rainy season. But recently, with reports from commune and district authorities we discovered 12 more sites of historical interest,” he said.
According to Taing Koy, some of the sites have not yet been excavated due to various factors, one of which was that the budget for research and planning is limited and must first focus on the sites that are at risk and that require immediate preservation.
The department will continue to research and preserve heritage sites and excavate them to prevent them from being lost to the nation.
Taing Koy said that in the past people had excavated dozens of ancient sites to search for tiles or ancient jewellery and artefacts for their businesses to make a profit and their activities had damaged the national cultural heritage.
Today the authorities and relevant departments were cracking down on such activities and were striving to spread the word to local people to protect and preserve these national heritage sites from looting by profiteers.
Culture ministry spokesman Long Ponnasirivath told The Post on September 13 that the ministry has advised all departments and units under its jurisdiction to search for ancient sites such as towns or temples and preserve them and prevent further losses by properly registering them as heritage sites so they may be excavated by archaeologists in an appropriate manner and available for study by future generations.