Nawapan Kriangsak, daughter of controversial antiquities dealer Douglas Latchford, is set to return her late father’s collection of Khmer Empire antiquities to Cambodia. The trove includes more than 100 rare objects dating back to the sixth century A.D.
Together, the artifacts, some of which hail from the royal cities of Koh Ker and Angkor, constitute the “greatest [collection] of Khmer cultural heritage outside of Cambodia,” said the country’s ministry of arts and culture in a statement last week.
But these antiquities also tell a fraught history. Once considered a preeminent dealer of Cambodian antiquities, Latchford, who died last August at age 88, had been accused in recent years of smuggling stolen Khmer antiquities. As Tom Mashberg explains for the New York Times, ongoing civil war, unrest and genocide under dictator Pol Pot made the country a prime target for the theft and resale of its many archaeological treasures. Looters routinely pillaged Cambodian archaeological sites between the mid-1960s and the 1990s.