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S'porean's discovery at Angkor Wat makes waves

Volunteer who found markings had uncovered love for digging by chance

Published on Jun 16, 2014 7:05 AM

THE discovery of a hundred never-before-seen paintings of deities, animals and musical instruments on the walls of Cambodia's Angkor Wat excited archaeologists worldwide when details came out in a journal last month.

The paintings, which cannot be seen by the naked eye, speak of a time when the Unesco World Heritage site underwent a transformation from a Hindu temple to a Buddhist one under 16th century leader King Ang Chan.

The man behind what experts call a "significant discovery" is a Singaporean: 35-year-old Noel Hidalgo Tan, who stumbled upon the markings in 2010 while volunteering at an excavation project at the 12th century site.

He was wandering around the temple during his lunch break when he spotted patches of faint red pigment in the chambers of the temple's uppermost tier.

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I believe that there's more to be learnt about these 15th century paintings... like from maritime academics on the types of ships that were depicted in the scenes... I'm leaving my findings in the good hands of my colleagues.

- Mr Noel Hidalgo Tan