Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Proof giants walked among us humans?

Proof giants walked among us humans?

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A silk-cotton tree grows inside the Ta Prohm Temple, popular with tourists for its jungle atmosphere, in November 2007 near Siem Reap. VOISHMEL/AFP

Proof giants walked among us humans?

For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal, such as a rhino or a croc. But if they are of the dinosaur – the kind with broad plates on its backs and spiked tails – one thing scientists do agree on: It is not proof that the giant creature – which paleontologists believe became extinct 65 million years ago – and humans lived together simultaneously.

However, the opinion of experts is unlikely to change the mind of proponents of Creationism, the religious belief that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. According to a recent story in the British tabloid the Daily Star, Creationists have jumped on the theory that the bas relief carvings depict the prehistoric giants and point to it as proof that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time, thus confirming their theory of the Earth’s age.

The Daily Star cited an excerpt from an article in UFO Sighting Footage, a periodical popular with Creationists, saying that “anything before 1800 AD that depicts a dinosaur or what we consider a dinosaur to look like shouldn’t exist.”

Atlas Obscura, an American online magazine that writes about curious travel destinations, was willing to at least entertain the Creationists’ theory.

“Maybe the carving is evidence that dinosaurs really did live on until much later than previously thought. (Creationists would certainly like to believe so),” the outlet wrote in an article on the carvings.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
For years experts have debated whether the carving in the centre depicted a dinosaur or a more contemporary beast. Meas Sovannaroth

“Perhaps here in the humid, ancient jungles of Southeast Asia, where the climate has remained largely unchanged since the dinosaurs’ days, giant reptiles lived on well into the human era – long enough to persist in the Khmer folk-memory.”

Meanwhile, Long Kosal, Apsara Authority spokesman, did not know exactly what the mysterious carvings depict.

“I really don’t know,” Kosal said. “There is no evidence that they were dinosaurs. They could be crocodiles or iguanas.”

However, Thuy Chanthoul, a professor of archaeologist at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said he believes they are depictions of dinosaurs, but not for the reasons Creationists have clung to the belief.

“We’ve known about [the carvings] for a very long time,” he said. “They were Stegosaurusi, an herbivore dinosaur, with faces similar to rhinoceroses’. From what I know, they were the only carving to be found so far.”

This carving, he added, proved that the people who built the temple understood the natural world and evolution.

“The builders of Angkor Wat were also scientists,” Chanthoul said. “Obviously, they knew how to cut stones and melt the steel … The ancient Khmer engineers practised real science.”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A close-up of the carving that may depict a dinosaur. Meas Sovannaroth

MOST VIEWED

  • Wing Bank opens new branch in front of Orkide The Royal along Street 2004

    Wing Bank celebrates first anniversary as commercial bank with launch of brand-new branch. One year since officially launching with a commercial banking licence, Wing Bank on March 14 launched a new branch in front of Orkide The Royal along Street 2004. The launch was presided over by

  • Girl from Stung Meanchey dump now college grad living in Australia

    After finishing her foundational studies at Trinity College and earning a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Melbourne in 2022, Ron Sophy, a girl who once lived at the Stung Meanchey garbage dump and scavenged for things to sell, is now working at a private

  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Wat Phnom hornbills attract tourists, locals

    Thanks to the arrival of a friendly flock of great hornbills, Hour Rithy, a former aviculturist – or raiser of birds – in Kratie province turned Phnom Penh tuk tuk driver, has seen a partial return to his former profession. He has become something of a guide

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to

  • Angkor Beer strengthens national pride with golden new look and fresher taste

    Angkor Beer – the "Gold of Angkor" – has a new look, one that is more stylish and carries a premium appeal, as well as a fresher taste and smoother flavour, making it the perfect choice for any gathering. Angkor Beer recently launched its new design, one