In a move aimed at preventing further looting, the government has issued a directive banning all excavations at dozens of historical sites around the country.
The directive comes at a time when unofficial excavations of historical sites, notably cemeteries, reportedly have been increasing nationwide.
Provincial officials said they have taken measures to stop villagers from scavenging for knives, bones, beads and swords from ancient cemeteries.
Long Sovann, Preah Vihear province second deputy governor, acknowledged that some thefts could still occur, especially near Preah Vihear’s provincial border with Siem Reap and Kompong Thom provinces, but he said that local authorities are trying to eliminate the problem.
“Now that we have peace, the local people are becoming educated about the [cultural] value of the antiques,” so they don’t steal them as much, he said.
Him Toem, director of cultural affairs for Banteay Meanchey province, said authorities halted the large-scale excavation of a cemetery in 2000.
But some villagers, motivated by poverty, still sneak vats and pots from there.
Cultural officials have said that looting will not stop until the government pressures other nations to outlaw the sale of stolen artifacts.