Another Hindu relic has been discovered in Kratie province, but unlike a potentially 1,500-year-old Vishnu statue that was accidentally unearthed by road workers at a nearby site early last month, this one was hiding in plain sight.
Tep Veasna, head of the provincial department of culture and fine arts, said villagers had been using the half-meter-high sandstone lingam—an arguably phallic-shaped worshipping object representing the Hindu deity Shiva—to shower on and wash clothes with for years, unaware of the antique’s possible value.
“I suspect that they moved it here,” Mr. Veasna said. “Villagers brought it here for washing clothes—they didn’t know,” he said, adding that villagers had also used the lingam as a seat during showers.
Locals alerted authorities to “a piece of stone” after culture department officials returned to the area to look for fragments of the Vishnu statue’s arm that had been broken by the road workers’ bulldozer, Mr. Veasna said.
The lingam has joined the statue—which is also made of sandstone—at the provincial museum, where both await examination by experts to determine authenticity and age.
Mr. Veasna said the site could contain more relics, so police are guarding the area to prevent people from digging there before experts arrive.
“We heard that there are inscription stones there,” he said.
Un Hoy, police chief of Chet Borei district’s Sambok commune, where both sculptures were found, said villagers had assumed it was a worthless stone object.
“The village chief and villagers said the stone had been there for a long time,” he said.