Wat Banteay Kbal Chen

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Wat Banteay Kbal Chen
Native Nameវត្តបន្ទាយក្បាលចិន
Alternative nameBanteay Kbal Chen, Wat Tbeng, Prasat Banteay Kbal Chen
Part ofAngkor
DistrictPrasat Bakong
ProvinceSiem Reap
Coordinates13.42220, 103.98813
Art Style(?)
MaterialBrick, Sandstone, Laterite

C1710001 Wat Banteay Kbal Chen 3.jpg
(one vote)

Site Size & Condition: Medium Ruin Wat Banteay Kbal Chen (វត្តបន្ទាយក្បាលចិន - Pronounced: Wot Bon-tiey K'bahl Jehn)

Curious laterite structure located in the grounds of the eponymously-named wat, which is situated immediately south of the ancient route that led eastwards from the vicinity of Prasat Bat Chum at Angkor. Its latitude is therefore very close to that of Prasat Chau Srei Vibol and Prasat Banteay Ampil (Siem Reap).

The site today consists of an intact laterite wall - at least 1.50m of which is visible - enclosing an area of 18m x 30m which possesses an alignment of some 95 degrees and features an entrance on its shorter, east side. Earlier reports cite a ruined brick tower and two libraries in its centre although the enclosed area is now covered by a ramshackle, currugated-iron roofed vihara and no standing structures are present.

The vihara is constructed on a compacted sand and earth base, on the same level as the top of the wall, and the laterite structure clearly represents a platform rather than an enclosing wall. (There are no gaps or entrances in the wall and the eastern steps lead to the top. (1)) We're uncertain how much of the laterite wall remains uncovered - probably several courses - while underlying blocks, extending beyond the foot of the wall are discernable in the northeastern corner. It is therefore possible that the main structures sat upon a double-tiered, or stepped, laterite platform similar for example to that at Lolei which lies almost due south of here.

Traces of a moat, noted on earlier reports, are no longer readily discernable while no associated baray to the east is apparent.

Although the ruined tower and libraries, (or more likely one 'library' and a fire temple/shrine), are no longer standing a large number of carved sandstone blocks are visible. These include enough octagonal colonettes or sections of colonettes to confirm at least three doorways as well as a pedestal and several sandstone steps. Also immediately noticeable however are a large number of rectangular, carved sandstone blocks featuring a shallow central hole and surrounding carved ring. (See below.) Most blocks measure approximately 40cm x 60cm although they are not uniform in size while certain of them feature rectangular sockets as if originally attached to a column or pillar. The central, round holes are far too shallow to have functioned as statue plinths and we confess that their purpose is a mystery. (Nor can we recall seeing similar objects elsewhere.)

With only eroded colonette sections to go on, we feel dating is problematic and while the sanctuary's location on the road linking Chau Srei Vibol, Banteay Ampil and points east hints at an 11th-century date, the stepped, laterite platform could also correspond to an earlier period.

(1) It is conceivable that the steps were concocted at a later date.

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