Cambodian Dolmen (Is it or isn’t it?)

I recently joined Conservation International on a flight over the Cardamom Mountains, stopping at several archaeological sites along the way. We had tried to do the flight a few weeks back but the weather wasn’t being very nice and the low clouds made it too dangerous for the helicopter. This time we got some decent weather, although we had some problems with clouds at the first site we tried to visit.

We put down at 3 sites, 2 of the “Jar” sites and the suspected dolmen. These burial jars are found at a number of locations throughout the Cardamom mountain range. However given the inaccessibility of much of the area there are quite probably more. No one is quite sure who put them there. There have been suggestions they are the old Kings and Queens of Angkor, or possibly local mountain tribes, no one knows for sure. We visited one site that also has several coffins carved from large logs. With tourists starting to find their way to these remote places as part of eco-tourism development it was very sad to see some idiot had put a large donation box just inches away from the coffins. It is now impossible to take a picture of them now without this hideous green metal box that has been concreted in place. I hope to find out who is responsible in the new year and give them a piece of my mind.

Apart from myself and several CI staff, we also had a locally based expert on the Jars with us. She was also very interested to see this alleged dolmen. Having visited dozens of similar sites across Britain and Europe, as well as visiting 2 dolmens in India I was eager to finally get to this site. I had been puzzled by remarks from the couple of people who had seen this site as no one was certain if it was man made or not. I thought it should be pretty obvious if it was a dolmen, but once we got there I saw what they meant. It’s a very puzzling site, it doesn’t look natural but it doesn’t look particularly man made either. The stones are right on top of a mountains with absolutely nothing above so it seems they could not have fallen here naturally, however it doesn’t look quite right for a dolmen. We left the site none the wiser.

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About Allan Michaud

English Wildlife Photographer/Environmental Filmmaker based in Cambodia
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