Prasat Kampong Preah

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Prasat Kampong Preah
Native Nameប្រាសាទកំពង់ព្រះ
Alternative nameWat Kampong Preah, Wat Prasat Kampong Preah, Prasat Wat Kampong Preah
K InscriptionK.737
Inscr. LocationIn situ
VillageKampong Preah
CommuneChhnok Trou
ProvinceKampong Chhnang
Coordinates12.49289, 104.47377
Founded8th Century
Art StyleKampong Preah

C0401001 Pr. Kampong Preah 1.jpg
(2 votes)

Site Size & Condition: Medium Prasat Prasat Kampong Preah (ប្រាសាទកំពង់ព្រះ - Pronounced: Pra-saht Kom-pong Preyer)

The site is comprised of 3 brick towers aligned east-west, opening towards the north, located within the compound of an active Buddhist monastery, in turn, situated a short distance northwest of modern-day Kampong Chhnang Town, on the edge of the Tonle Sap Lake. The wat grounds consist of a raised, square area measuring approximately 150m on each side with the ancient sanctuary set in the northeastern quadrant. There is no dry land east of the site and arrivals in ancient times were likely to have been by boat from the north which may explain the unusual orientation of the sanctuary. (During certain times of the year, the surrounding area is inundated and the site may only be accessible by boat.)

The eastern tower is largely intact and displays intricate brick reliefs as well as lintels in exceptional condition and is considered probably the best-preserved example of the eponymous, Kampong Preah, style in Cambodia. Doors feature carved brick pediments, rounded colonettes and tapestry reliefs on false doors and columns.

The central tower is in poor condition and significantly smaller in size while foundations of a third, western, tower - previously buried - have been uncovered by excavations. As the central tower is, unusually, the smallest it is conceivable that it predates its larger and better-preserved neighbour and indeed a section of less elaborately carved colonette in the northern doorway appears to reflect a slightly earlier art style. (Only the foundations of the third tower are visible.)

Additionally, there are a few clues to perhaps later occupation of the site with a rectangular area slightly west marked out by a partially buried, single-course, laterite border. These may correspond to a later addition or simply a more recent reuse of laterite blocks from an original platform. The interior of the eastern shrine does however house - among more recent statues - what appears to be a Bayon-period seated Buddha image. (We haven't examined it closely and its authenticity requires verification.)

Overall - while the main tower is classic Kampong Preah period - a preexisting, possible Prei Khmeng era structure can be envisaged along with occupation into the late 12th century. (1)

Note that the inscription K.737, assigned to the site and undated, consists of a single letter inscribed on a pedestal. There are several intact and damaged pedestals on the site but we haven't yet identified the letter.

(1) This would also correspond to the nearby sites across the river in Kampong Leng District.

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