ANA team excavating '10th century' linga

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The excavation on Phnom Bok within the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap province. ANA

A team from the Department of Conservation and Archaeological Preservation in Angkor Archaeological Park under the Apsara National Authority (ANA) is excavating a large and unique linga on Phnom Bok that suffered damage in the Angkor area in order to renovate this ancient treasure.

The team is currently excavating and studying the structure before planning to renovate and uphold the archeological value, ANA said in a September 22 social media post.

ANA archaeologist Hour Sothoun said excavations began in early August. The project is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

He added that the ancient structure supporting the linga is made of laterite. The structure is 19m long, 20m wide and 3.5m high and carries a 5.2sqm sandstone pedestal, which carries the 1m by 4.2m linga. It is estimated that 90 per cent of the pedestal is damaged, with the linga broken into several pieces.

Sothoun concluded that the damage may have been caused by an explosion during the civil war, as the team had found a lot of shrapnel in the area. The laterite is also aged, with several parts having collapsed due to exposure to the elements over the centuries.

The team is studying which techniques to employ to repair the huge linga and will face many challenges. The complexity of the mountainside location means logistics will be difficult to arrange. And because the linga weighs several tonnes, relocation will likely be even more of a difficult task.

There are no inscriptions or documents confirming the date of its construction; however, the team’s study has led them to conclude that it may have been erected in the 10th century, during the reign of Yasovarman I.