Officials from the Ministry o f Environment and relevant institutions last week unearthed a perfectly intact fossilised tree in Ratanakiri province
Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra yesterday said the tree fossil was discovered on October 22 during excavation work at Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary.
He said the work was carried out by ministry officials in collaboration with technicians from the Royal Academy of Cambodia, Ministry of Culture officials, geologists, volunteer working groups and rangers.
“We do not know the age of this tree fossil yet because the working team will have to continue studying it,” he said, noting that this is the first time an intact fossilised tree had been unearthed in the Kingdom.
Mr Pheaktra added that the excavation work was being done to study the area and collect data for research and documentation with a view to turn the site into a tourist destination to benefit communities living there.
“This solidified tree fossil will be kept at the site and the provincial environment department will build a shelter to protect it from being destroyed or stolen,” he noted.
Phon Khemarin, Ratanakiri provincial environment department director, yesterday said the fossilised tree may be hundreds of years old since it has turned black, noting that he did not know yet what species it was or how it tall is because he is waiting for feedback from researchers.
“Although we found this tree fossil several days ago, we did not announce it to the public sooner because we were afraid it would be stolen before we could take steps to protect it,” he said.
Meanwhile, a team carrying out excavation work at West Tob temple found the body and head of a Buddha statue in Siem Reap province.
Last week, an Apsara Authority working team found the body and head of a Buddha statue during excavations to study a structure in front of the West Tob temple.
Sok Keo Sovannara, an archaeologist for Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties who is working on a project to renovate the temple, said yesterday the body and head of the statue were found at different locations.
“The body of the Buddha statue was found more than one metre below the foundation,” he noted. “The head was found buried 40 metres in the ground about three metres away.”
Mr Sovannara said the statue was built between 1431 and 1863 and the body and head are being kept at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties for cleaning and listing in an inventory for documentation, research and repairs.