Archaeologists with the Apsara Authority have uncovered the upper portion of the submerged northern foundation of the Ak Yum temple after the water level at West Baray lake receded due to hot weather.
Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal yesterday said that archaeologists from the Department of Conservation of the Monuments began excavating the northern part of Ak Yum temple at the end of March, while the Water Resources Management Department was doing maintenance work at the lake.
He said the archaeologists opened eight excavation sites to search for the base in the north of the temple and to study whether there had been settlements along the northern side of the temple just like along the western side.
“Archaeologists excavated a total of eight sites in the lake area and uncovered portions of the temple’s foundation in three of them,” Mr Kosal said. “The base of the temple was submerged during the 11th century.”
“This result will greatly contribute toward determining the exact location as well as the depth of the foundation of Ak Yum temple,” he added.
Chea Socheat, Apsara Authority’s director of the Ak Yum temple research project, yesterday said that in addition to finding the upper portion of the temple base, archaeologists also found several large stones, believed to have been used by people to prevent the northern part of the temple from becoming submerged between the seventh and ninth century.
“The working team is currently digging deeper to get to the base of the temple but work could be disrupted if there is rain which increases the water level,” he said.
According to Apsara Authority’s officials, the archaeological study of Ak Yum temple is expected to be completed in mid-May.
In March 2016, French research group Mafkata found that the the Ak Yum temple structure at the south part of the lake is the oldest, dating back to 600 years.
According to historical documents, Ak Yum temple was built between the seventh and ninth centuries and construction began during the reign of Bhavavarman I.