Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Khmer Site Looted Volume 52 Number 3, May/June 1999
by Andrew L. Slayman

During the past six months, hundreds of sculptures have been stolen from the Cambodian temple complex of Banteay Chhmar, according to a recent New York Times report. Built by the twelfth-century Khmer ruler Jayavarman VII, the site's eight temples are deep in the jungle near the Thai border. Bands of looters allegedly organized by Cambodian military officials have torn walls apart with pneumatic drills to dislodge the sculptures. Truckfuls of artifacts have been intercepted en route to Thailand, and last December one inscription was found in a Thai antiques shop, on sale for $8,000. Comparing the temples to Angkor, also heavily plundered, UNESCO representative Sébastien Cavalier noted, "At Angkor the head disappears. At Banteay Chhmar the whole wall disappears." The site was included on the World Monuments Fund's 1998-99 list of the world's 100 most endangered sites.

© 1999 by the Archaeological Institute of America