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Phum Snay ruined, other sites in danger

Issued: 25 April 2003

The archeological site Phum Snay in Banteay Meanchey province found in May 2000 was completely ruined and other sites are facing extreme dangers from looters, archeologists have warned.

Dr. Dougald O'Reilly of the archeological faculty at the Royal University of Phnom Penh said the site Phum Snay, a major pre-Angkorian cemetery, had been destroyed and other sites in nearby areas of the country's northwest were being looted by villagers. He consequently called on the government to make every effort to preserve these cultural sites while explaining that the loss of the other sites would mean the destruction of valuable information that could shed light on how Khmer society developed into the complex Angkor Empire.

The site Phum Snay was badly looted by local people digging the grave to find ancient artifacts for sale, making it impossible for the archeologist team to find anything substantial about that site. O'Reilly said when he went to the site in January, he witnessed people trading the plundered artifacts. He also saw some items from Phum Snay on sale in Phnom Penh's Russian Market.

Thuy Chanthourn, a lecturer at the faculty told that despite a cessation of looting of villagers living near the site, another cemetery had already been dug. The local authorities were powerless to stop them as the looters had military protection, he added.

Phum Snay site was excavated in May 2000, revealing 14 graves with historical relics including swords, ceramic pots, spindle whorls, beads, semi-precious stones, and bangles. Both men and women were buried in the graves. Some of them were found in their uniforms and decorations. O'Reilly estimated that testing of samples sent to UK would indicate the remains were from between 300 and 600 A.D.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts will hold a press conference in late April to release the results of the team's excavation work.



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