PHNOM PENH: Archaeologists have unearthed a large, centuries-old statue that is believed to have once stood guard over an ancient hospital at Cambodia’s world-famous Angkor temple complex.
The nearly two-meter-tall artwork, which is thought to date from the late 12th to the early 13th century, was discovered during a dig on Saturday, said Long Kosal, a spokesman for Apsara Authority—the state agency charged with managing the complex.
The new find is the most significant statue discovery at Angkor since two giant Buddha carvings were unearthed in 2011, he added.
The Angkor Archeological Park, a world heritage site, contains the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th centuries, and is Cambodia’s most popular tourist destination.
At the height of its power the city and its hundreds of temples boasted more than a million inhabitants, making it one of the world’s most populous pre-industrial centers.
Huge swathes of the park have been excavated over the decades, creating a walkable archaeological wonder that attracts more than two million visitors a year.
But the complex continues to yield new finds.
Cambodian archaeologists and experts from Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies found the statue buried 40 centimeters (16 inches) underground during an excavation of an Angkor-era hospital built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII.
The Apsara agency said the sandstone statue’s arms and legs had broken off but the carving on the body and head remain beautiful despite the passage of time.