PHNOM PENH • Archaeologists have unearthed a large, centuries- old statue that is believed to have once stood guard over an ancient hospital at Cambodia's world- famous Angkor Wat complex.
The nearly 2m-tall statue, which is thought to date from the late 12th to the early 13th century, was discovered during a dig last Saturday, said Mr Long Kosal, a spokesman for Apsara Authority - the state agency charged with managing the world heritage site.
The new find is the most significant statue discovery at Angkor since two giant Buddha carvings were unearthed in 2011, he added.
The Angkor Archaeological Park holds the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th centuries, and is Cambodia's most popular tourist destination.
At the height of its power, the city and its hundreds of temples had more than a million inhabitants, making it one of the world's most populous pre-industrial centres.
Huge swathes of the park have been excavated over the decades, creating a walkable archaeological wonder that attracts more than two million visitors a year.
But the complex continues to yield new finds.
Cambodian archaeologists and experts from Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies found the statue buried 40cm underground during an excavation of an Angkor-era hospital built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII.
The Apsara agency said the sandstone statue's arms and legs had broken off but the carvings on the body and head remain beautiful.