Temple Looters Now Targeting Rural Cemeteries, Official Says

Although theft of artifacts from temples has declined, cemeteries in the northwest pro­vinces continue to be looted, officials said.

Oung Von, director of the Her­itage Conservation Depart­ment at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said 31 ancient vats, pots and kettles stolen from cemeteries and bound for Thai­land were seized in Ban­teay Mean­chey last month. And last week authorities confiscated three artifacts waiting to go to Thai smugglers, but the person who stole them got away, Vong Bonn, police chief of O’Chrou district in Banteay Mean­­chey province, said Tues­day.

“The smugglers wanted to sell the artifacts to the Thais,” Vong Bonn said, adding that district police are cracking down on artifact smuggling in Poipet. An ancient one-square-km cemeterywas discovered in June in Tho­dong village of Svay Chek district as a road was being built, Oung Von said. He said police tried to stop villagers from scavenging the knives, bones, beads and swords discovered at the site.

Some villagers are still taking vats and pots from the cemetery discovered in March 2000 in Phum Snay village of Preah Netpreah district, he said.

Last December, an archaeologist said that virtually every family in the village of Phum Snay appeared to be digging up graves in a prehistoric cemetery.

 

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