APSARA officials discovered an ancient Asura head statue while relocating stalls at Angkor Thom’s South Gate east of Om River bridge in Siem Reap.
Chhouk Somala, head of the registration team of Department of Conservation of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology of APSARA National Authority, said the Asura head was found on October 19, at the former souvenir stalls in front of Angkor Thom’s South Gate.
After relocating the stalls to a new carpark in front of Phnom Bakheng, the team went to clean the area when they discovered the Asura head, according to APSARA Authority’s Facebook page.
Somala said the team dug 30 to 40cm deep and found three pieces of ancient stone. The team washed them and assembled them into the Asura head.
An Asura head measuring 60cm high, 65cm wide, and 59cm thick in sandstone asura in the Bayon style of the Jayavarman VII period has previously been found at the gates of Angkor Thom.
Somala added that according to villagers, the forgotten asura head was found at the restoration site of Angkor Thom’s South Gate during the French period. Examination at the location shows fragments of statues remain there.
The team has now transported the recovered statue to Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum to be cleaned and repaired. The team plans to launch a search for the statue’s original body before it is reassembled.
APSARA National Authority said excavations and registration of statues at the site will continue as the hunt for more lost statues continues.
Asuras are demons in ancient Hindu mythology and can be frequently spotted throughout the Angkor Wat complex. They can be seen lining the pathway leading to Angkor Thom’s South Gate and 92 Asuras and 88 Devas (celestial being) feature in Angkor Wat’s bas-relief, the Churning of the Ocean of Milk.