AID FOR ANCIENT TOMBS
Copyright 2003 www.reuters.com
[ January 12th 2003 ]
oldest temples, some dating to the fifth century,
are being destroyed by looters and the encroaching
jungle because the impoverished country cannot
afford to look after them, officials said on Monday.
The vast temple complex at Angkor Wat may be the
jewel in the Southeast Asian nation's archaeological
crown, bringing it international fame and fortune
as the backdrop to Hollywood movies such as "Lara
Croft: Tomb Raider."
only 800 years old, Angkor is far from the oldest
legacy of Cambodia's ancient Khmer civilisation.
For the other 1,000-odd monuments dotted around
the jungle-clad, war-ravaged nation, Angkor's
pre-eminent reputation means it is the only site
getting the expertise and money needed to keep
it from falling into dangerous disrepair. "We
need financial and technical help from outside
because the ruined temples are getting worse,"
culture secretary Prince Sisowath Panara told
Reuters. "Every day I am afraid that a temple
stone will drop on somebody's head.
only World Heritage Site, Angkor swallows up nearly
all the annual $5-10 million in aid assigned to
prop up temples, leaving others such as the huge
Preah Vihear complex near the Thai border at the
mercy of looters and the elements. "It is a great
pity that the older, smaller temples receive so
little aid," said Etienne Clement, country director
of UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organisation.
"Personally, I would like to see a much more balanced
distribution of the funds."
Vihear and another temple in the former Khmer
Rouge heartland of Banteay Chmar in the northwest
have been put forward as candidates for World
Heritage status in a bid to attract more funds
but it is unclear whether they will make it onto