Local NGO Heritage Watch on Wednesday expressed concern over the destruction of an ancient temple mound in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district, which was leveled recently by a private construction company.
In addition to the Tuol Ang mound, which Kambol villagers said had been a sacred cremation site, a second mound was bulldozed, and ancient bricks, pottery fragments and stoneware were found after the site was razed, Heritage Watch said in a statement.
“The site is too badly damaged,” said Dougald O’Reilly, Heritage Watch director, who visited the village in Kambol commune two weeks ago after receiving an anonymous tip that the site was being leveled to make way for a warehouse.
Heritage Watch has alerted the Ministry of Culture to the destruction, O’Reilly said.
Heritage Watch said in the statement that it was unable to confirm whether permission to destroy the site had been obtained. “While it is recognized that development of the area may bring benefits, it is crucial that archaeological sites be inventoried and investigated prior to their destruction for development,” the statement read.
Ang Snuol district Governor Samuth Thoeun said that he was unaware that the ancient site had been destroyed and that officers were sent Wednesday afternoon to investigate.
Samuth Thoeun added that a conservation team had visited the site several weeks ago and there were plans to add it to the list of national heritage sites.
Culture Ministry Secretary of State Chuch Phoeun promised to investigate. He added that thousands of mounds bearing the name “Ang” are registered with the ministry, and that if Tuol Ang appears on that list, construction at the site will be ordered to halt.
“Anyone who destroys heritage could be jailed for up to five years” and fined up to $7,500, he said.
A Heritage Watch staff member said that some materials found at the site may date back to the Angkorian period.