In the southwest corner of the Bayon Temple, over 400 stones out of nearly 2,000 have been identified, with known original locations, while the rest await thorough identification of their origins, according to an official from the APSARA National Authority (ANA).

The more than 400 stones have been identified as falling from the second gallery and the top of the temple’s four-faced Brahma. 

Meng Sovanlylin, an architect and site manager with the Bayon restoration team, explained that experts are preparing to repair the collapsed floor and ancient drainage system in the southwest of the temple, but would first need to relocate piles of stones behind the repair site shed wall.

The initial phase involves registering and relocating each stone by type to facilitate identification of its role and location. Roof stones are an exception, requiring removal and stacking for the ultimate goal of uncovering the top of the four-faced Brahma. 

“The team plans to meticulously trace the original position of each stone, aiming to reposition all identified stones in the future,” she said.

A recent ANA social media post reported that since mid-January, a substantial number of stones surrounding the temple have been identified, including the more than 400 pieces now known to have fallen from the second gallery and the top of the four-faced Brahma.

Nhok Lo, an ANA restoration and stone expert with over 25 years of experience in the Angkor area, said that during the initial phase of excavation, various stone types such as lintels, four-faced Brahma stones, pillars, pediments and gallery roofs were identifiable.

He also noted that the stone carvings of Brahma Tower No 27, including those from the second gallery, are being examined individually.

“Preparing parts for reassembly is essential for identifiable stones, while also isolating temporarily unidentifiable ones,” he said.

On January 31, the ANA’s Department of Conservation of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology began efforts to repair the collapsed floor and restore the ancient drainage system on the first roof of the southwest part of the temple.

The long-inactive ancient drainage system, prone to blockage during prolonged rainfall, requires repairs to facilitate proper water flow, preventing rainwater from affecting the temple’s foundation. This measure will safeguard against potential erosion and strengthen the temple’s structural integrity.