Rescue Excavations and Training at Wat Jas

Early in 2006, HeritageWatch began rescue excavations at the 2000 year-old site of Wat Jas, a large and important center during the Iron Age. Starting in late 2005, it was heavily targeted by looters seeking the ceramics, tools, and beads found in its burial grounds. Sadly, by the time HeritageWatch reached the site, it had nearly been decimated.

The rescue excavations, led by Dr. David Kyle Latinis and Heritage Watch staff, extensively recorded the damage, mapping and taking aerial photographs to fully illustrate the scale of destruction. This information was used to publicize the plight of Cambodia’s prehistoric sites in the media, which ran several stories about the looting. In mid-2006, Heritage Watch will undertake a survey of looted sites in the vicinity of Wat Jas, providing more concrete information on the prevalence of looting there. This survey will also allow for a better understanding of regional settlement patterns in the centuries leading up to the great Angkorian era.

This project was possible thanks to the continued support of the US Department of State, which awarded Heritage Watch the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation for the second time in 2005.

The project also saw over 25 young Cambodian archaeology students from the Royal University of Fine Arts receive in-class training and field experience.
"The work of Heritage Watch in developing innovative preserve Cambodia's cultural heritage and to foster responsible tourism represent a 21st century approach to... stemming the trade in illegal antiquities" James Cuno, Director, Center for

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