Archaeologists from the Apsara Authority yesterday unearthed a large stone sculpture of a turtle during its excavation project at the Kandal Srah Srang temple of Siem Reap province’s Angkor Archaeological Park. The artefact joins the list of recent discoveries made by the authority this month.
On Monday, the Apsara Authority uncovered several artefacts: two metal tridents – one of which was intact while the other was broken, crystal stones and a large sculpture of a dragon head.
Chea Socheat, director of the excavation project in Kandal Srah Srang temple, said the turtle sculpture bore no distinct patterns, except for a square impressed on its shell.
“The turtle is known as one of the avatars of the Hindu god, Vishnu. Sometimes, turtles are placed as a votive object in a temple’s foundations or at its centre. As for the turtle we found, we don’t know its purpose yet.
However, according to our preliminary assessment, the turtle was probably prepared to be placed at the temple’s foundation,” said Mr Socheat.
“It could also be a valuable stone, which was placed for the celebration of any religious ceremony during that time,” he added.
He said such sculptures and crystal stones had also been found at other temples, such as the Lor Ley and Neak Pean temples. However, Mr Socheat noted the turtle sculptures found in the past were smaller than the present relic discovered at Kandal Srah Srang Temple.
“Although previous studies were conducted about the temple, there has been no in-depth research about it, where various objects have been buried. Our recent discovery can help explain the history of the temple, including the religious ceremonies that were once performed here,” he said.
According to Mr Socheat, the Kandal Srah Srang temple was built in the 10th century and was additionally modified in the late 12th and early 13th centuries.
The archaeological excavations at the Kandal Srah Srang temple started in late March and are scheduled to conclude within six weeks if excavations go smoothly.