A 32-meter-long tree trunk, believed to date to the 11th century, was recently discovered buried in a dry lake bed in Kompong Chhnang province and has been enshrined at a pagoda in Kompong Leng district, officials said Monday.
Villagers living in Da commune’s Samroang Sen village discovered the tree, along with some human bones, on May 11 after an apparent premonition by a local fortuneteller.
“According to the soil layer of the pole and the human remains we found, it could be from 11th century,” said Sok Thourk, director of Kompong Chhnang provincial Fine Arts and Culture Department.
Some believe the tree may have been used as a “flag pole” for ancient troop movements. A large stone believed to have been used as support for the tree was also discovered, Sok Thourk said. Archaeologists from the Ministry of Fine Arts and Culture are expecting to determine the exact age of the tree next week, he said.
Elderly people in the commune had spoken for generations of a flag pole submerged in “Boeng Dang Tong,” or Flag Pole Lake, said Chhay Pom, 56, a local villager who had discussed the story with a 102-year-old villager.
The 100-by-35-meter lake dried up for the first time in known memory last month and the excavation was prompted by a local fortuneteller who reported that if the flag pole was retrieved from beneath the mud and kept in a pagoda, it would encourage more rainfall, Chhay Pom said.
About 400 people held a ceremony on Sunday night and then transported the tree by bamboo raft to Samroang Sen pagoda, about 6 km from where it was found.
“I believe our village will no longer face drought,” Chhay Pom said.