The Sambor Prei Kuk National Authority (SPKNA) has begun repairs on the Lion temple group in the Sambor Prei Kuk resort in Kampong Thom province because of their deteriorating condition.
Chan Vitharong, director of the SPKNA’s Department of Archaeological Site and Conservation, told The Post on July 6 that the repairs were made in three phases after initial evaluations in 2020 and updated evaluations this year.
The condition of each of the temples was classified as high, medium or low according to their state.
Vitharong said in the first phase it would take six months for the temples to be repaired at a cost of 200 million riel ($45,000). The repairs would start on the eastern and southern sides.
In the second phase starting next year, the repairs would take eight months and would focus on the western and northern sides. A third phase of repairs would start in 2023.
He continued that the temples had been surrounded by trees from 1916 until 1995. But the trees had died and when their roots were removed, some of the sculptures – especially those made of clay – and the roofs were damaged.
“These repairs must give value to the architecture. That is very important. If the repairs cause a loss in value then we cannot do them. In Sambor Prei Kuk Resort, there are more than 260 temples and only some of them have been repaired,” Vitharong said.
SPKNA director- general Phan Dina said at a traditional ceremony opening the repair site on July 6 that the work would help protect and conserve the temples that are currently at risk.
“The lion temple group is located between the Sambor temple group and the Yeay Poan temple group of the Sambor Prei Kuk temple area. The only surviving group of towers is this middle one,” he said.
Dina added that researchers had yet to agree on the precise origins of the temples, which are built with clay and decorated with sandstone. But he said the architecture appeared to be from the period of the late 7th century and the 8th century – known as the Prei Kmeng and Kampong Preah periods. These temples are the biggest and most important structures from the pre-Angkorean period left intact.