Officials from the Oddar Meanchey provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts joined forces with the heritage protection police force to inspect 68 ancient artifacts that were being kept at Chey Udom Chongkal Pagoda in Chongkal district and commune.
The artifacts will be catalogued for preservation as part of the nation’s cultural wealth, an official who joined the inspection said.
Yean Ya, an official from the culture department, told The Post that most of the artefacts in the pagoda, located in the commune’s Kork Wat village, were ceramic fragments of ancient temple statues.
He said that based on scientific data, most of the pottery dated back to pre-historic times.
“The pottery and temple fragments were already listed by our team for preservation as part of our cultural heritage. It turns out that some of the artifacts were placed in the pagoda but were not originally from there,” he added.
Provincial chief monk Luch Bun Laing told The Post that some of the items came from local laypeople who handed them to the pagoda committee.
“Neither I nor the authorities or laypeople throughout the district thought that any of these relics might be thousands of years old. After the officials inspected them and told us they are prehistoric, we were very pleased that we have contributed to the preservation of part of our heritage,” he said.
The pagoda committee has put the pottery and fragments in glass cabinets for display so that Buddhists from near and far can observe and learn more about them.
Kork Wat village chief Tat Kak told The Post that he and the villagers were excited to know the truth about the history of each of the artifacts as they – with the monks and the pagoda committee – had cared for them until now.
“I’m very happy because we had not realised the significance of these items. We knew that the clay jars, vases and incense holders were old, of course. But to hear their true age – and to understand the value they hold in preserving the culture of our people – is really quite something,” he said.
Say Keo, acting police chief of the district, congratulated the officials on their inspection. “This is a source of pride for our people. We know that all the ancient objects at this pagoda will be safe and they will enable the younger generation to conduct studies and research into the masterpieces of our Khmer forefathers.”