RCAF Soldiers Discover Buried Buddha Artifacts

RCAF soldiers uncovered 154 mi­niature Buddhas coated with gold, silver and brass late last week, while clearing a plot of land to grow crops in Stung Treng prov­­ince, officials said Monday.

They stumbled upon the artifacts on March 10. They were bur­ied in a plot owned by a relative of one of the soldiers in Stung Treng dis­trict, which had been overgrown with forest, officials said.

The artifacts—10 of which are plated with gold, 51 with silver and 93 with brass and which vary in height from about 10 cm to the size of a hu­man thumb­print—are now be­ing stored for safekeeping at the residence of Sam Sa Em, the dir­ec­tor of Stung Treng’s cul­tur­al de­part­ment, said Stung Treng prov­in­cial Deputy po­lice Chief Chou Pi Choura.

“It is the second time we re­ceiv­ed Buddhist statues from lo­cal peo­ple in my province,” Sam Sa Em said Monday. In 1997, 15 ar­ti­facts were found in the area and gi­ven to re­tired King Noro­dom Si­ha­nouk for display inside the Royal Pa­lace.

Sam Sa Em said that his department could not validate the artifacts’ ages. Officials from the Min­is­try of Culture in Phnom Penh are scheduled to evaluate the artifacts next week.

“They could have been bur­ied…

by laypersons to save them from de­struction during the Pol Pot re­gime. They might also have been bur­ied to prevent them from being seized by Thai co­lonists in the 1880s,” he said.

Uong Von, director of the Min­is­try of Culture and Fine Art’s Her­itage Department, said Mon­day that the ministry often re­ceives ar­ti­facts from people who discover them while clearing land to cultivate crops, adding that an unspecified cash reward is always given to those who do so.

Uong Von said he had not yet seen the newly discovered artifacts, but he intends to do so shortly. He said that after evaluation, the artifacts will be sent to the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

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