Cambodia’s Koh Ker archaeological site inscribed on Unesco World Heritage List

The ancient temple, also known as Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, is located in Srayong commune of Preah Vihear province’s Kulen district. PHOTO: THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

BANGKOK – Cambodia’s Koh Ker temple archaeological site has been officially added to Unesco’s World Heritage List during the ongoing 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The ancient temple, also known as Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, is located in Srayong commune of Preah Vihear province’s Kulen district. According to Unesco, the Koh Ker site spans 1,187ha.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet, in a Sept 17 congratulatory letter, described the listing as a historical event, noting that the temple was built in the 10th century by King Jayavarman IV.

The temple was accepted to the list by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) professional association as one of the world’s top architecture sites, he added.

Mr Hun Manet noted that the acceptance of the temple to the Unesco list was the result of great joint efforts.

He said the process was long and complicated in terms of documentation, including reviews by domestic and international experts, and this was compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Mr Hun Manet, Cambodia had prepared the application for registration in 2018.

Following many stages of review and evaluation, then Prime Minister Hun Sen officially requested that Unesco register the temple as a World Heritage site in January 2021.

International experts, including from Icomos, evaluated the temple in 2021 and Unesco accepted the application in March 2022.

“This achievement is another source of national pride on the international stage. It stems from the continuous heroic and steadfast efforts of the government, and was made possible thanks to (Mr Hun Sen’s) win-win policy,” said the letter.

Mr Hun Manet thanked all relevant parties for their contributions to the outstanding result.

He instructed the authorities at all levels to safeguard the temple and follow the guidelines of the World Heritage Committee in terms of development in the area. All land encroachment, construction, deforestation, hunting and illegal excavations must be prevented, as they affect the value of the temple complex.

To celebrate the accomplishment, Mr Hun Manet instructed state institutions at all levels to beat drums or gongs and cheer at 7am on Sept 20 in all locations, including pagodas and schools.

To date, four tangible cultural properties in the South-east Asian nation have been placed on the World Heritage List.

The other three listed properties are Angkor Archaeological Park, which was inscribed in 1992, the Temple of Preah Vihear in 2008, and the temple zone of Sambor Prei Kuk in 2017. THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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