PHNOM PENH: On Friday morning, 17 March 2023, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts held a "Reception Ceremony for Khmer Artifacts Returned to the Kingdom of Cambodia" with Prime Minister Hun Sen presiding at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.
The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts stated that the recovered artifacts are invaluable to national cultural heritage and the souls of generations of Cambodians and that the artifacts were illegally exported abroad amid instability during Cambodia’s civil war with the Khmer Rouge.
The Ministry noted that the repatriation of these Cambodian cultural assets is due to active cooperation between stakeholders in public and private institutions, national and international experts, and UNESCO. It especially praised the joint efforts of the governments of Cambodia and the United States.
Additionally, 77 pieces of traditional jewelry made of gold and precious metals, were brought from the United Kingdom to Cambodia on 17 February 2023, by a Cambodian team led by Mr. Hun Many.
The Ministry highlighted important Hindu and Buddhist statues among the reclaimed cultural treasures, including: Shiva and Skanda, Skanda sitting atop a peacock and Ganesh-all of which originate from the 10th century Khmer capital, Koh Ker. The city was heavily looted during the civil war and other periods of insecurity. The collection also includes ancient jewelry from pre-Angkorian and Angkorian periods.
With continued cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and other countries, the Kingdom will continue to negotiate with institutions and collectors in order to repatriate even more Cambodian cultural treasures.