Angkor from the ground up.

When we visit ancient ruins, we often assume that the site is a static, complete thing, a place where what we see is all that’s there. Often, though, this is not the case; the excavation is but a work in progress.

Take, for instance, the temple complex of Angkor, Cambodia. Roughly twice the size of Manhattan, Angkor contains Buddhist and Hindu temples built between A.D. 900 and 1200 as part of the city of Angkor Thom, seat of the powerful Khmer Empire.  Just last month, a group of archaeologists experienced what even they thought was something that happens only in the movies.

According to the Cambodian Daily newspaper, “Archaeologists are typically happy to find pottery shards when they excavate a site in Angkor, as too many centuries have passed and too many cities have risen and collapsed here for them to expect to find major objects in the ground.”

But that’s exactly what happened. On the second day of their dig, the team found a six-foot-tall stone statue that would have stood guard on the ground of an ancient hospital in Angkor Thom. Such hospitals were built at the cardinal points and housed statues of three divinities, including the Medicine Buddha.

Low and behold, in the following days, the team unearth part of a Medicine Buddha, the first ever found.

Next, scientists will analyze the pieces and preserve them for posterity.

Proof that the world—even the ancient world—keeps changing.

For information about a visit to Cambodia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, contact Jane Franklin at or call 888-490-8019.

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