'Beyond Looting': studying gods and heroes of ancient Cambodia in the emblematic case of the statuary of Koh Ker
Paper short abstract:
In the field, all that is left today of the statuary of Koh Ker are countless fragments and decapitated pedestals, cut hastily and coarsely by the looters : sad remains that are nevertheless precious, as they help to identify and locate the lost statues.
Paper long abstract:
Chok Gargyar (the modern site of Koh Ker) was the ancient royal city that eclipsed even the magnificence of Angkor during its short lifetime for the twenty years of Jayavarman IV's reign (AD 921-941). The statuary from this site is typical of this unusual movement of the centre of the kingdom away from the Siem Reap plain. It remained unrivalled throughout the Angkor period. The narrative iconography is not sculpted in bas-reliefs, as on the pediments and lintels of other sites, but takes the form of round bosses on human or heroic scale. Yet because of the remote location of the ancient city, nowhere else does the modern pillage of the angkorean sculptures appear to have been as systematic as in Koh Ker. All that is left today in the temples are countless fragments and decapitated pedestals, cut hastily and coarsely by the looters : sad remains that are nevertheless precious, as they help to identify and locate the lost statues.
Koh Ker, an early capital of the Khmer Empire—new results of archaeological, epigraphic and art historical research