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800 year old boat unearthed in Cambodia

While working near an Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia, local laborers have accidently stumbled upon a unique boat that dates back to the 13th century, from a dynasty that is historically revered and extensively researched upon in the region.

Angkor Wat Source::By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen - Own work, GFDL,
Angkor Wat Source: By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – Own work, GFDL,

According to Long Kosal, who represents the Aspara Authority, after the boat was unearthed near the famous complex it was analyzed by the experts from a research institute in New Zealand, who helped determine the age of the boat. The boat is evidently carved out of a single large tree trunk, which is typical of the boats manufactured by the local people during the time of the Khmer empire in the 13th century. Mr. Kosal explained that the discovery is significant as it is the oldest boat of its kind ever uncovered in the region, and that it is absolutely vital in providing some more information about the life and customs of the Khmer people who once extensively utilized these kinds of boats, both for personal endeavours and for military purposes.

The boat was not discovered by an archaeologist, rather, like many other significant findings in the world of archaeology, it was accidently found by ordinary people; a group of farmers who were working a few miles from the famous Angkor complex. After the initial inspection, the boat was sunk in a pond opposite the temple for preservation purposes until further research work is authorized.

12.8-meter-long boat Source:ApsaraAuthority
12.8-meter-long boat Source: ApsaraAuthority

The said Angkor complex was analyzed with the help of modern technology in 2012, that revealed its actual size and scale of expansion. An airborne Lidar system analyzed the complex from a considerable distance in the sky and revealed peculiar patterns that were previously hidden due to the natural camouflage provided by the thick forest. The findings concluded that the Angkor complexes and other sites up and down the region might only represent a fraction of the scale of their original forms many centuries ago.

Mostly influenced by the religions of India such as Hinduism and Buddhism to some extent, Khmer empire ruled from 802 AD to 1431AD, over the regions of modern-day Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam. Some of the famous cities from the Khmer era were Wat Phu, Banteay Prei, Sambor Prei Kuk, and Angkor Borei.

Banteay Kdei, Angkor Source:By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Banteay Kdei, Angkor Source: By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Khmer empire thrived, courtesy its formidable warriors and especially well-organized and fully honed Navy. The Khmer Navy had highly skilled workers, who could carve a whole tree trunk into a functioning boat with enough space to carry soldiers and their equipment over large distances. One of the reasons experts suggests that heavily contributed to the fall of Khmer Empire was a constant state of civil war between a number of factions that collectively made up the empire, along with the external tribes that continuously strived to defeat the naval strength of Khmer and to take the region for themselves.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News