Police in Koh Kong province on Saturday confiscated two pieces of pottery allegedly stolen from the site of an ancient shipwreck discovered in February off the province’s coast, the province’s governor said Wednesday.
Koh Kong Governor Yuth Phouthang said the alleged thief had brought his fishing boat into waters patrolled to protect the wreck. Cambodian sailors then boarded the boat and found the pottery, he said.
“He said he had dived and taken them from the wreck before we had found it,” Yuth Phouthang said.
Police were searching for other artifacts that also may have been stolen, he said.
He also revealed that provincial authorities had only found out about the wreck after hearing that fishermen were looting it for artifacts.
At Prime Minister Hun Sen’s request, a committee to recover the ship was formed in March and salvage operations on the ship have been conducted by the Cambodian Navy and artifacts dated to the 15th Century have been found.
Divers excavating pottery from the wreck have also been given new breathing equipment from the Russian government, Yuth Phouthang said.
They had been breathing unassisted through tubes at a depth of 30 meters.
“Before we did it that way but it was very hard for the divers,” he said. “They were exhausted.”
Close to 600 pieces of pottery have been recovered and catalogued at a warehouse owned by local tycoon Ly Young Phat, said Hab Touch, deputy director of the National Museum.
In addition to the pottery, divers had also found elephant tusks and bamboo baskets.