A group of Japanese archaeologists working near Angkor Wat have discovered a series of broken Buddha statues that may support one theory that a wave of anti-Buddhism swept through Cambodia in the 13th century, an official said Tuesday.
The archaeologists, from Sophia University in Japan, unearthed 103 statue fragments from a site near Banteay K’dei temple, slightly northeast of Angkor Wat, a few weeks ago, said Dr Ang Choulean, director of the Culture and Monuments Department of Apsara Authority. The fragments add up to less than 50 statues, he said.
The statues were found buried 2 meters underground, obviously intentionally, he said. “None of the statues were intact.”
That could support the theory that after the death of King Jayavarman VII in 1219, Cambodia moved from Buddhism to Brahmanism—a sect of Hinduism—dig leader Yoshiaki Ishizawa told a Japanese newspaper.
“This finding proves that history saw a massive destruction of Buddha sculptures,” he was quoted as saying in the Yomiuri Daily.
Another dig near the site is scheduled about three months from now, Ang Choulean said. After that, the fragments will be examined to find out if they were buried before or after Jayavarman VII’s death. Only then, he said, will they be able to support the theory.