Discoveries of weapons and industrial metalworks from 18 ancient forges, believed to be from the pre-Angkorean era in Preah Vihear’s Chheb district, were presented at the National Museum on Friday, after road construction drew the attention of archaeologists to the area.
A team of experts from the Royal Academy of Cambodia exhibited detailed maps of the 11th-century sites dotted around M’lou Prey commune along with artifacts including swords, shields, spears and bowls found during the Jan 10 to 16 excavations.
“These metalwork sites were the ancient sites which we have never seen before,” said Thuy Chanthourn, lead archaeologist on the excavations. “We used to hear about these sites in the marriage songs only…but now we have unearthed them.”
According to Mr Chanthourn archaeologists began digging in the area after military officials informed Cabinet Minister Sok An that artifacts were unearthed during road construction last month.
Mr Chanthourn added that the team believed the remote area, set in dense jungle, to be the heart of the ancient metal smelting industry, which played an important role in the ancient Khmer kingdom.
However, he said further research was necessary, such as carbon dating, to properly assign dates to the cultural remains and compare the findings to others across Southeast Asia.
On Feb 6 Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that he had ordered further research into the area, which he believed was once controlled by a Cambodian military commander called “Akka Moha Sena Padei Sang Kream,” or Great Supreme Warrior.
“I have ordered to research [the area] further…to make that area another heritage place, because it was the weapons producing area known as the M’lou Prey weapons producing area,” Mr Hun Sen said, adding that road developments must not encroach onto the sites.
Secretary of State for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Chuch Phoeun, said on Thursday that the ministry would request the help of the Cambodian Mine Action Center to help demine the area before further research took place.