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Archeologists find large statue buried at Angkor Wat temple
Aerial view of the Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province some 314 kilometers northwest of Phnom Penh. (AFP / Tang Chhin Sothy)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Archeologists at Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple complex studying the site of a hospital from eight to nine centuries ago say they have found a large statue in their excavations.
The government agency that oversees the complex, the Apsara Authority, said on its website that the 1.9-meter (6-foot, 3-inch) tall, 58-centimetre (23-inch) wide statue was discovered Sunday by its team, working with experts from Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. It is one of the largest statues from the era to be unearthed in recent years.
The agency said the statue, believed to be from the 12th or 13 century, is thought to have been a symbolic guardian of the entrance of the hospital. It was found buried 40 centimetres (16 inches) under the ground, and will be put on public exhibition in the museum in the northwestern province of Siem Reap, where Angkor is located.
In late 2011, archeologists at the temple complex unearthed the two largest Buddhist statues found there in eight decades.
Angkor was the capital of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. Large numbers of architectural and religious artifacts have been looted from there and sold overseas, while others were buried for safekeeping during a civil war in the 1970s.