History and conservation work of Sambor Prei Kuk temple

1. History of Sambor Prei Kuk temple

The Sambor Prei Kuk Temple Resort was the former capital of Isanpura of the Chenla Empire between the late 6th and early 7th centuries AD. This ancient Khmer capital was first recorded in the records of Chinese envoys during the Tang Dynasty in the first half of the 7th century. At that time, the king ruled over the entire Khmer Empire, including southern Laos and present-day Thailand.

Many ancient remnants in the capital of Isan Bora are located in the temple complex of Sambor Prei Kuk today, including: brick temples, inscriptions, water retaining structures, city walls and other shrines. The buildings reflect the stage of development of the Khmer civilization at that time. Architecture and art show the influence of Indian culture while preserving the local culture, which confirms the process of Indian influence and brings the uniqueness of Khmer culture. The architecture and design of the sculptures on the octagonal temple body, which researchers call floating temples, and the decorative motifs on the floor with the image of the dragon are the only identities in Khmer art. The resort has been built continuously for about 500 years, highlighting the temples, statues and works of art in the middle of the forest near Kampong Thom, about halfway from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.

According to the architectural features of these temples, Sambor Prei Kuk progressed during the reign of King Isanvarman I, the son of Chitrasen. During his reign many religious structures were erected. These religious structures are masterpieces of pre-Angkorian Khmer art, including: embossed carvings on the floor of the temple, octagonal bricks, limestone carvings, and medallion carvings. The scope of the dam is further evidence of the importance of the capital and the technological achievements of the architects and engineers of that time. However, some temples were built before his reign, such as during the reigns of Bhavavarman I, Mahendravarman, and Bhavavarman II, relatives of the royal family. Despite the relocation of the capital to Angkor in the 9th century, Sambor Prei Kuk remained an important center during the Angkorian period, with the addition of religious buildings and the restoration of old structures. The evidence found on the ornaments at the Lion Temple is similar to the period of Jayavarman II, the Sambo Temple group, which contains inscriptions from the reign of King Rajendravarman II. 2 in the 10th century and inscriptions in the group of fences of Romeas inscriptions during the reign of King Suryavarman I. Not only through archeological research, they also found many artifacts in the post-Angkorian period.

Sambor Prei Kuk is an important source of historical information in Southeast Asia and an important religious center during the first half of the first millennium AD. Inscriptions and archeological remains provide insights related to this important period before the emergence of the Khmer Empire in the Angkorian period.

Between the 11th and late 19th centuries, very little was known about the role and significance of Sambor Temple, the former capital of religious and agricultural sites. As for the ancient residential buildings, they have completely lost their shape, leaving only the temples, landscapes and water reservoirs as evidence.

During the war, the Sambor Prei Kuk resort was damaged by fighting and lack of maintenance. Until 1992, the Royal Government regained control of the area, then the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, as well as other relevant ministries and institutions began to reconsider the study and conservation of the Sambor Prei Kuk temple resort. The maintenance and preservation of the resort at that time was limited due to the limited national budget and the lack of specialists in all areas, such as conservationists, repair specialists, as well as the management and management of historical sites. At present, the temples, cultural landscapes and natural landscapes in this vast resort area are open to visitors and specialists to visit and study the history, culture and religious beliefs.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has prepared a document to nominate the Sambor Prei Kuk temple site as a World Heritage Site in 2012 until the end of 2013 under the guidance of the Minister, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and UNESCO experts. Additional relevant documents submitted to UNESCO International. At the same time, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has compiled a number of relevant laws and documents related to the demarcation and management of the Sambor Prei Kuk temple complex.

After more than three years of research and documentation, the World Heritage List was submitted to UNESCO in early 2016, nine months after submission. After that, ICOMOS specialists visited Sambo Prei Kuk and assessed the actual situation and made some recommendations to make the application documents stronger.

The years of efforts of the Royal Government, with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts as the Technical Staff, led by Lok Chumteav Minister Pheung Sakona and the Sambor Prei Kuk Temple Area Specialist, have been declared a heritage site. World at the 41st Summit of the World Heritage Committee, held on 2-12 July 2017, with 193 member countries and 21 member countries The Standing Committee approved the inclusion of "Sambo Prei Kuk" as a World Heritage Site at 9:37 pm (Cambodian time) on July 08, 2017 in Cracovie. Poland.

With three features that led to the decision to include the "Sambor Prei Kuk" site as a World Heritage Site: I: Global Outstanding Value II: Preservation of Archeology and III: Preservation of the Temple .

2. History of the preservation of Sambor Prei Kuk temple

Research and conservation of the Sambor Prei Kuk temple complex began in the late 19th century, when the Sambor complex was first introduced to the European Union by Le Clare and later French explorers. . Later, some research work by the French School of the Far East (EFEO), which was the first step in compiling an inventory of temples and archeological sites. At that time, the protection of the temple also carried out, such as: clearing the forest on the temple and in the temple area, which at that time focused on the Sambo and Yeay Poan temples, which were carried out by the Angkor Conservation during 1927 -1928. In addition, conservation and archeological research were carried out from 1958-1970.

Conservation and research plans were suspended due to the civil war of the 1970s. The Sambor Prei Kuk temple was badly damaged by the war, which lasted for more than 30 years from 1970 to 1990, causing a large number of temples to be damaged, especially artefacts. Many were destroyed and stolen from their original location. In the early 1990s, the Royal Government of Cambodia ended the war and began to reorganize and manage, with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts cooperating with the relevant ministries to work on the preservation of the impossible. Priceless humanity. Although the budget and experts are still limited, the effects have been avoided and the results have been proudly achieved, such as: maintenance work, protection, restoration of temples, archeological research, art, architecture and urban planning.

The Royal Government has established the following legal documents for the conservation and development of sustainable resort areas:

- First Royal Decree No. NS / RKOT / 0303/116, dated March 13, 2003, designating the Sambor Prei Kuk resort area for the purpose of preserving the cultural heritage in terms of archeology, nationality, ethnography, history and resort value. To better protect and preserve the landscape, culture, environment and tourism development.

- Royal Decree No. NS / RKT / 1214/1488 dated 24 December 2003 on the revision of Article 4, Article 5 and Article 7 of the Royal Decree No. NS / RKT / 0303/116 March 13, 2003 Demarcation of the Sambor Prei Kuk resort area. - Royal Decree No. NS / RKT / 1214/1488 dated 24 December 2003 on the revision of Article 4, Article 5 and Article 7 of the Royal Decree No. NS / RKT / 0303/116 March 13, 2003 Demarcation of the Sambor Prei Kuk resort area. Royal Decree No. NS / RKOT / 0715/810 dated 31 July 2015 on the organization and functioning of the National Authority for the Protection and Development of Cultural Resorts of Sambor Prei Kuk Temple.

Sub-Decree No. 117, dated September 10, 2015, on the organization and functioning of the General Department of the National Authority for the Protection and Development of Cultural Resorts of Sambor Prei Kuk Temple. Sub-Decree No. 03, dated January 4, 2017, on the organization and management of Sambor Prei Kuk resort.

3. Continuing conservation of Sambor Prei Kuk temple

After the Sambor Prei Kuk temple site became a World Heritage Site, the Sambor Prei National Authority continued to pay attention to the following conservation activities:

Shrink branches in temples and clear small and large saplings that grow on the walls at the location of the Sambo and northern groups: N1, N7, N8, N9, N10, N11, N12, N13, N14-1, Prasat Doeum Chan (N15), Prasat Asram Maha Rusi (N17), Prasat Chrey N18, N19, Prasat Kbal Chrouk N20, Prasat Sandan and Prasat Buon Ream N24 , Expansion of the touring road to the west of Prasat Sambo (6m wide, 200m long) and the access road to Sandan and Buor Ream temples (6m wide, 1200m long) Lion group: C1, C5, Group C7, Group C8 and Srah Chrung Isan Prasat, Yeay Poan Temple Group: S1, S5, S7, S8, S9, S10, S11, S12 and the pond in front of the temple, Trapeang Ropak Temple Group (Z, Y ) And Prasat Kok Truong (W) widening the tour route, Prasat Trapeang Ropak and Prasat Kok Truong (6m wide, 1040m long) L) and widening the touring route of the Golden Rust Temple (4 meters wide, 2300 meters long), the Daun Mong (D) and Ta Mom (T) temples.

Temporarily put up warning signs, such as forbidding to climb, forbidding to touch 25 dangerous sculptures on the temples, such as: Sambo Temple Group, Lion Temple Group and Yeay Porn Temple Group, improved the tour line at the location Sambo Temple Group: At Khoeun Prang N1, 2 wooden floors were crossed, widening the west tour road to Sambo temple to the west entrance (200 meters long) and widening the tourist road to Sandan and Prasat temples. Buos Ream (6 meters wide, 1,200 meters long) Lion Temple Group: At Khoeun Prang C1, 1 wooden floor is crossed and the east gate (outside and inside) is made of stairs and 2 crossing boards. And widening the tourist road from Trapeang Ropak temple to the west gate (6 meters wide, 350 meters long) Yeay Poan group: at the east gate And inside) make 2 stairs and boardwalk and at the west gate (inside) make 2 stairs and boarding board Visit the temples of the Golden Fences (4 meters wide, 2300 meters long).

Renovation of damaged road, 5 meters wide, 30 meters long, 5 meters wide, 30 meters long, 5 meters wide, 30 meters long, in front of Yeay Poan temple, 30 meters long, 30 meters long The road in front of the Lion Temple is 10 meters wide and 40 meters long.

Made wooden fence posts with bamboo bars to protect the group of temples and in front of the conservation building: 540 meters around Sambo temple, blocking the entrance to Doeum Chan temple (N15) temple Maha Russey Ashram (N17) and Prasat Chrey (N18) 280 meters long, 280 meters long around the Lion Temple, surrounded by Yeay Poan temple and blocked the entrance to the pond in front of the 240 long temple Meters, blocking the entrance to Trapeang Ropak temple, 40 meters long, surrounded by the Sambor Prei Kuk temple conservation area, 100 meters long.

Risk mapping was carried out on the main temple groups and satellite temples, such as the Yeay Poan temple group, the Lion temple group, the Sambo temple group, and the Trapeang Ropak temple group. Perfect women and a group of 46 golden rhinoceros temples.

Installed measuring instruments to monitor damage in 5 groups of Yeay Poan temples.

Risking 119 floating temple sculptures in 16 temples is an important task for conservation work because these beautiful and unique sculptures are at risk of damage. 

Open the way to visit the entrance at Yeay Poan Temple, the west gate of the inner wall (S5): the door frame faces the risk of turning from the original position closer to the north, 20 cm long due to the frame Below the crack and collapse on the north side, in order to facilitate the access road through the original entrance, we moved the vertical frame stone on the south side to the original location, made a wooden staircase and planned against Support brick walls immediately. East Gate Exterior Wall (S15): Reinforce the structure, fill the pit, dig the excavated pit and make a wooden ladder (1.2 m wide, 6.30 m long) And a height of 2.20 meters) to facilitate transit.

Study the condition of trees that pose a risk to temples in the main group of temples and in 36 satellite temples.

Preventive excavations at the construction site of a new school building at Prasat Sambo Secondary School in the buffer zone of Prasat Sambo Prey Kuk resort.

Study, research and verify archeological labels by observing actual archeological sites and verifying them through aerial photographs LIDAR data found 4 hills, 6 irrigation systems, 1 artifact, 1 ancient road, 2 old villages, 1 pottery remnant, 1 stone base and 1 ancient landscape.

In 2017, Sambor Prei Kuk National Authority received three Angkor Conservation Fund projects to restore temples and save sculptures, as follows:

S 11 Temple Restoration Project

-Emergency project, wall sculpture and floating temple sculpture (Phase 1)

-Medal sculpture restoration project at Yeay Poan temple group.

-Made a 12-meter-long wooden fence across two roads at Sandan Temple

-Cultivated poor branches, cut small and large trees that grow on the

-Temple and on the walls of the temple, such as:

-Sambo Temple Group, Lion Temple Group, Yeay Poan Temple Group, Rong Romeas Temple Group and Perfect Srey Temple Group Clean on Tuol Prasat Preung (M90) in the center of the ancient capital.

-Made signs to inform other news such as: No climbing, no entry, no touching the inscriptions and sculptures, and 121 warning signs on the Sambo temple group, Lion temple group, Yeay Poan temple group, Trapeang temple wearing group Rhino fence, Tamom temple and Daun Mong temple.

- Improved the tour line in the temple by clearing and clearing some forest to make a detour from the temple walls at Prasat Sandan (N21) and Prasat Bum Ream (N24).

- Quoted from the floating temple sculptures in the high-risk group of temples for conservation in the future.

- Investigated the risk of a medallion on the inner wall of the western part of the Yeay Poan temple complex, which is facing collapse.




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