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Japan team excavates ancient statues in Cambodia

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug 22, 2010

SIEM REAP, Cambodia -- A team of specialists led by the president of Tokyo's Sophia University has excavated the severed upper halves of six Buddhist statues from the Angkor ruins in northwestern Cambodia.

The Sophia University Angkor International Mission, headed by university President Yoshiaki Ishizawa, excavated the statues from a circular moat at the ruins of Banteay Kdei temple on Friday.

About 60 centimeters tall, the statues are believed to have been produced in the late 12th or early 13th century.

Ishizawa and his team have worked to repair and preserve the Angkor ruins, a World Heritage Site. They also excavated Buddhist statues there in 2001, a discovery that brought certain historical events to light, including the fact that Buddhism was suppressed across Cambodia after the death in 1219 of Jayavarman VII, the king who constructed the temple.

The latest excavation found the pieces neatly lined up in the circular moat, which a team member said was "evidence that the people of those days did not lose faith [in Buddhism] despite the oppression."


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