While they watched, a bulldozer dug into the ground and lifted some odd-colored earth, which puzzled Mr. Chanthourn.
“It was really dark earth, almost like coffee…and small stones as black as onyx,” he said. And then he and his students noticed fragments of clay pots and smelted iron.
Mr. Chanthourn immediately asked the workers to stop work. “I asked them, ‘please give me some time to check,’” as this could be an iron smelter site so far unknown to archeologists, he said. Workers agreed, and followed his suggestion to work a kilometer away from that particular site, he said.
Mr. Chanthourn then called their manager and Chheb district authorities so that he could explain the situation. Within 15 minutes, district governor Oun Vuthy was at the site, asking him to draw a map of the zone that he felt should be protected so it could be sent to Preah Vihear provincial governor Oum Mara. Mr. Chanthourn complied and asked that the site be left untouched until the morning so that he and his students could investigate.
Story: Michelle Wachon & Kuch Naren, The Cambodia Daily | Photo: Cambodia Daily