Temple architecture

Discovery of the first temple of Khnach Tol

Workers, led by a team of 15 archaeologists and conservationists from the National Sambo Prei Kuk Authority, have completed the excavation of the first demarcated group of the Khnach Tol temple complex in the ancient city of Isanborak, located in the province of Kampong Thom.

The excavation unearthed a group of ruined temples buried in the ground at the archaeological site of Sambor Prei Kuk, “the temple in the wealth of the forest” in the Khmer language.

The excavations began in March and were completed at the end of last month. The archaeological site of Sambor Prei Kuk includes more than a hundred temples and was inscribed on the World Heritage List on
July 8, 2017.

National Sambo Prei Kuk Authority Director General Phan Nady said yesterday that the temple unearthed during the group’s first excavation was completely buried in the ground and covered in forest.

“Excavations found two towers buried in the ground, one square in shape and the other octagonal in shape. The octagonal temple is a feature that did not exist in Southeast Asia in the 7th century.

“Archaeologists also found diamond pillars and sandstone remains in the ground, which may be evidence of the temple structure.

“The entrance to an ancient temple is usually in the east, but there are two doors to the temple of Khnach Toul, one facing south and the other facing north.”

“It could be due to the geography of the place because to the east is a large lake called Boeng Khnach Tol.

“The National Authority of Sambor Prei Kuk is currently researching this,” Nady said.

According to Nady, financial support from the Japanese Government Agency for Cultural Affairs is being used to fund the study of the temple walls.

“In the city of Isanborak, the capital of the Chenla Empire which flourished in the late 6th and early 7th centuries AD, there were also temples for religious ceremonies at that time,” he said. -he declares. “Besides the ruins and fallen diamond pillars, we also discovered small pieces of pottery used by people from that era.”

According to the preliminary findings of archaeologists, the temple was built in three stages, and the art and architecture of the temple dates back to the middle of the 7th century AD, between the late Sambor Prei Kuk style and the early Prei Khmeng style.

The two towers found during the excavations could be compared to temples such as the Yeay Poan and Sambo temples in the resort town of Sambo Prei Kuk as well as temples from the pre-Angkorian period, such as the Srey Krob Leak temple in Phnom Basit.

The results of these excavations are considered important by the National Authority of Sambo Prei Kuk and as evidence of the history and landscape of Isanborak.