A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
At the end of August, deep in the Cambodian jungle 60 miles north of Phnom Penh, monks clearing land next to a centuries-old pagoda destroyed in the 1970s by the Khmer Rouge discovered 31 tiny Buddha statues. Made of gold, silver, and brass, the statues are very small--some no bigger than a toe or thumb. Their discovery led to three days of religious celebrations. Although the age and source of the Buddhas is unknown, four additional silver and bronze statues were also found beneath the pagoda, which is thought to be at least 200 years old, leading archaeologists to suspect that the diminutive Buddhas themselves are older.
Reconstruction work on the pagoda has been halted and a police guard has been set up at the site to thwart looters. Locals would like to see the Buddhas enshrined in the rebuilt pagoda, while Sok Cheang, the chief of the district, says that he "wants to see these statues placed in museums for the next generations to see them." For the time being, the Buddhas will stay in the Po Pich temple where they were found.