Monday, September 13, 2010

Bulldozers Destroy Priceless Archaeological Site in Cambodia

A 2500 year old archaeological site was unexpectedly destroyed in Cambodia last week. An archaeologist who rushed to the scene was shocked to discover heavy equipment still leveling the land, apparently to create temporary housing for a nearby company. Story by Kent Davis
Memot archaeological site destruction 1 Bulldozers Destroy Priceless Archaeological Site in Cambodia

Local archaeologist Heng Sophady was shocked to see a priceless Cambodian prehistoric site destroyed, apparently for temporary housing.

Memot, Cambodia — The rural Memot area in southeastern Cambodia has proven itself as one of the richest sources of information about the country’s pre-historic development. Ancestors of the primitive people who once lived there later became part of the Khmer Empire. The Khmer, one of the world’s most advanced artistic civilizations, grew to rule most of Southeast Asia only 1500 years after the Memot villages formed.

On Tuesday, September 2, a colleague in the Memot area placed an urgent call to archaeologist Heng Sophady to report the destruction of an ancient village site. Mr Heng rushed to the site, located in Samrong Village and called the Samrong Circular Earthwork.

3D Image of Hourn Khim Circular Earthwork Memot Cambodia Bulldozers Destroy Priceless Archaeological Site in Cambodia

Example of a circular earthwork in Memot, similar to the Samrong site destroyed.

While historical research in Memot goes back more than 50 years, this site had only been discovered in an aerial photo in 1997 by Waseda University professor Yasushi Kojo.

Memot archaeological site Cambodia Bulldozers Destroy Priceless Archaeological Site in Cambodia

Memot, Cambodia

Work in the Memot area began in 1959 with French archaeologist Louis Malleret, who described a series of 17 circular earthworks. These mounds represented the sites of early villages.

The first local excavation was begun in 1962 by Bernard Philippe Groslier who coined the name “Mimotien” for the previously unknown civilization. Now 36 massive prehistoric villages have been discovered in Cambodia. Radiocarbon dating and fragments of glass beads found at one site indicate an original settlement date close to 1000 BC. For the excellent full story, visit

Cambodian Authorities Rally to Protect Historical Site

Posted: 13 Sep 2010 03:56 PM PDT

Researchers worldwide were shocked when bulldozers unexpectedly overran a 2500-year-old archaeological site in Cambodia, a country that depends on historical assets to attract more than 2 million visitors each year. Government authorities reacted quickly to minimize the damage and prevent future accidents like this one.

Article by Kent Davis [Click here for Italian media coverage]

Memot archaeological site destruction 11 Cambodian Authorities Rally to Protect Historical Site

Local archaeologist Heng Sophady was shocked to see construction equipment destroying a priceless Cambodian prehistoric site.

Memot, Cambodia – When archaeologist Heng Sophady arrived at the 2500 year-old prehistoric site he was stunned to find the area leveled, with bulldozers still pushing dirt that only a day before held clues to Cambodia’s history. Local contractors ordered the land clearing, unaware of the irreplaceable history that lay beneath their feet.

Memot Site Map Cambodian Authorities Rally to Protect Historical Site

Prehistoric sites in Southeastern Cambodia are filled with details about the country's distant past.

The Memot area is particularly rich in ancient artifacts, offering insights into some of the earliest human settlements in Cambodia. Discoveries include tools, dwellings, jewelry, bones, beads and implements used in everyday life. French archaeologists found the prehistoric villages more than 50 years ago. Cambodian scholars and international teams from Germany, Japan, Australia, France, the United States and other countries continue the investigation. The Samrong Earthwork where the incident occurred was unexcavated, and was only discovered by aerial photography in 1997.

samrong 00 Cambodian Authorities Rally to Protect Historical Site

By the time Mr Heng arrived at the remote site the damage was done.

On September 2, Mr Heng received an urgent call with news of the destruction. He quickly rushed to the scene but the damage was already done. Mr Heng quickly contacted authorities in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts who were quick to respond. Ministry officials immediately scheduled an emergency meeting to review Mr Heng’s field report and authorized him to meet with the Director General of the Memot Rubber Plantation, which manages large tracts of land for its operations (see map below). For the excellent full story, visit


Anonymous said...

Sucky. Bad karma, man. Ancestor spirits will haunt the workers...

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