Archaeological Excavations at Prasat Khnar Temple, Cambodia

Vīrāśrama base

 

A post by Chloé Chollet & Dominique Soutif

This year, the Yaśodharāśrama Research Program conducted excavations in Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia. The program is co-directed by Dominique Soutif (EFEO), Julia Estève (Mahidol), Chea Socheat (APSARA) and Edward Swenson (University of Toronto) and funded this year by the Excavations Commission of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the DHARMA project (ERC n° 809994) and the Hal Jackman foundation.

From February 17 to March 13, an international team and many workers from surrounding villages gathered together to work at Prasat Khnar temple (IK. 315). The excavations focused on two buildings potentially linked to āśrama (“hermitages”) of the ninth and eleventh centuries, namely a Yaśodharāśrama (sponsored by the king Yaśovarman I) and a Vīrāśrama (perhaps sponsored by Vīralakṣmī, king Sūryavarman I’s wife). The research objectives were to better characterize their links with the temple, to define their religious functions and whether they shared a common activity period.

Ceremony held in Prasat Khnar temple to mark the beginning of the excavations. Photo: Chloé Chollet.
The Yaśodharāśrama before the beginning of the excavations. Photo: Chloé Chollet.
The Vīrāśrama before the beginning of the excavations. Photo: Chloé Chollet.

In addition to the excavations, ancillary activities were carried out during the time spent in Preah Vihear province. It was an opportunity to conduct several surveys around Prasat Khnar temple and in other places in the region (such as Phnom Mrech or Phnom Tbeng). Last but not least, the inventory of inscriptions stored in the archaeological deposit of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in Preah Vihear City was completed, and photogrammetry or rubbings have been made on some of the inscribed stelae.

Yaśodharāśrama base
Edicle with stele unearthed near the chapel of Yaśodharāśrama

A second excavation campaign will be held next year to continue the work started this season.


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