A new study published in the journal PLoS ONE has uncovered about 400 years of intensive land use around the ancient city of Mahendraparvata, Cambodia.
Mahendraparvata was founded by King Jayavarman II – the ruler of the Khmer Kingdom – in 802 CE.
Discovered in 2013, the city is located on the plateau Phnom Kulen, around 40 km north of the famous Angkor Wat complex.
The history of Mahendraparvata is based on several written inscriptions, the most well-known being an 11th century CE inscription found in eastern Thailand. The inscription, dated to 1052 CE, tells about a private family serving successive Khmer Kings for 250 years, the first mentioned being King Jayavarman II. Read more.
Rising out of the jungle on white pillars, the new Preah Vihear Museum’s largest building stands empty. But Cambodian officials hope that one day it will be the place where nine ancient statues depicting a dramatic battle scene are reunited from around the world.
They came a step closer to that goal last week, when Sotheby’s auction house in New York agreed to return one of the statues to Cambodia, ending a heated legal battle that began when the U.S. government filed a lawsuit last year at Cambodia’s initiative to press for its return.
The decision marks the latest progress in efforts to bring back together the nine figures that once formed a tableau in a tower of the 1,000-year-old Prasat Chen temple. The scene captured a famous duel in Hindu mythology in which the warrior Duryodhana is struck down by his cousin Bhima at the end of a bloody war of succession while seven attendants look on. Read more.
An ancient statue of a Hindu warrior, pulled from auction two years ago because of assertions that it had been looted from a temple deep in the jungles of Cambodia, will be returned to that country under an agreement signed on Thursday by Sotheby’s, its client and federal officials.
The accord ends a long bare-knuckled court battle over the Khmer treasure, a 10th-century statue valued at more than $2 million. The Belgian woman who had consigned it for sale in 2011 will receive no compensation for the statue from Cambodia, and Sotheby’s has expressed a willingness to pick up the cost of shipping the 500-pound sandstone antiquity to that country within the next 90 days. Read more.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The World Court on Monday settled a long-running spat, ruling an ancient temple is on Cambodian soil while not defining the nearby border with Thailand.
Officials in both countries expressed satisfaction with the judgment, the Bangkok Post reported.
The international court’s ruling largely dealt with technical issues unresolved since France, then the ruler of Cambodia, failed to come to agreement with Thailand about the location of the border in that region in 1904. In later decades, that led to Cambodia and Thailand engaging in skirmishes over the rights to the temple of Preah Vihear, which was built in the 11th and 12th centuries. Read more.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Two 10th century Cambodian stone statues displayed for nearly two decades at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art were returned to their homeland Tuesday in a high-profile case of allegedly looted artifacts.
The voluntary return of the pair of “Kneeling Attendants” statues by one of America’s foremost cultural institutions is seen as setting a precedent for the restoration of artworks to their places of origin, from which they were often removed in hazy circumstances.
It comes as the Cambodian government is asking other museums to return similar objects. At the government’s request, U.S. authorities have begun legal action against Sotheby’s auction house to try to force the handover of a contested piece. Read more.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia - By the time they encountered a ten-meter-tall brick wall, trees growing from its top, they had been walking through the jungle for an hour. It actually wasn’t that far from the village, but there was no straight path. No path at all, in fact. A motorbike couldn’t get through, so they walked. Following their guide, they zigzagged through unfamiliar terrain. They were compelled to look steadfastly down at the ground and step, as best they could, into the footprints of the person before. It was a matter of life or death. They were walking through a minefield, not far from the border between Cambodia and Thailand in the Oddar Meanchay province.
Before leaving on this expedition through the forest, Nady Phann, an official from Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture, asked a local villager if there would be any mines. Phann was well aware of this legacy of his country’s war-torn past. ”There are many”, the villager said. “We found five or six mines per day when we were planting rice.” Read more.
A Cambodian composer has revealed the sound of an ancient harp which has gone unheard for more than eight centuries.
The pin harp is shown being played by maidens in the stone reliefs on the walls of the Angkor Wat temple complex.
It lends its name to pinpeat orchestras, which perform ceremonial music of the royal courts and temples in Cambodia.
Archaeology lecturer Preap Chanmara says unlike the other orchestra instruments - cymbals, xylophones, flutes and drums - the pin harp has been lost.
"We know that there are many music instruments on the sculptures - some even dating back to the time before Angkor Era: the 7th century to the 13th century," he said. Read more.
Six weeks ago the Metropolitan Museum of Art sent two of its top executives to Cambodia to resolve a thorny dispute: whether two pieces of ancient Khmer art that the museum has long prominently exhibited were the product of looting.
In days they had their answer. Cambodian officials documented that the two 10th-century Khmer statues, donated to the Met in four pieces as separate gifts between 1987 and 1992, had indeed been smuggled out of a remote jungle temple around the time of the country’s civil war in the 1970s.
On Friday the museum said it would repatriate the life-size sandstone masterworks, known as the Kneeling Attendants, which have guarded the doorway to the Met’s Southeast Asian galleries since they opened in 1994. Read more.