Ancient Earthwork Now Under Protection Plan

The government has moved to protect an ancient earthwork in Kompong Cham province that was partially destroyed during the relocation of a rubber plantation workers’ village, according to the Asian Development Bank and local officials.

In September, the Samrong earthwork in Memot district was bulldozed during construction for the privatization of the Memot Rubber Plantation, which was formerly state-owned. The $7.5 million privatization is being funded by an ADB loan and overseen by the Cambodian government’s National Divestment Committee.

“Following a recommendation from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts to the National Divestment Committee and confirmation by MCFA of the existence of the archaeological site, the new resettlement village will be laid out so that it doesn’t disturb the archaeological site,” ADB spokesman Sothea Ros wrote in an e-mail.

Despite a detailed 62-page resettlement plan produced by ADB in 2009, the existence of the Samrong earthwork was not known until it was bulldozed.

“There was no information available on the ground at the archaeological site nor on any maps with the local authorities about the existence of the site,” Ms Ros explained.

Culture Ministry and NDC officials could not be reached yesterday. Deputy district governor Ros Sokhan confirmed that the site was now being protected from further development after a group of archaeologists and Culture Ministry officials met with the director of the Memot Rubber Plantation.

“I can clarify that the government’s decision to use the area…for more than 500 poor families of rubber workers to live still exists, while the circular earthwork is also under a protection plan,” he said.

Heng Sophady, an archaeologist at the Memot Center for Archaeology, which was established to study the 37 ancient earthworks dotting the region, said that although the site’s moat and perimeter wall had been leveled, the artifacts within were still intact.

The Memot earthworks are likely remnants of Iron Age rice farming villages dating from between 1,000 and 500 BC, each of which was surrounded by a raised earthen wall and a moat.

Mr Sophady said a team would travel around the area in January and February to install concrete signs on the earthworks and teach villagers and local authorities about the value of the ancient sites.

“We cannot reconstruct what was lost but we will protect what remains at the site,” he said.


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