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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Cambodia finds its 1st ancient ironworks site in history

PHNOM PENH, The Apsara Authority of Cambodia has found and excavated for the first time in its history the ancient ironworks site at Khav village, Khav commune, Chi-kreng district of Siem Reap province where is the home of Angkor Wat temple, the local media reported on Saturday.

"We have excavated four sites and each site has size of five meters in length and two meters in width, and we also found iron mines, some potteries, pieces of cook, some bamboos, other ancient materials, and a tube for blowing the air into the ancient cook to melt the iron stone," the khmer language newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea quoted Ea Darith, deputy director of temple conservation for external affairs of Angkor wat park as saying, who is also expert for leading the excavation group.

"Those sites were used for melting iron mines and it was belonged to aborigine "Kouy" and their relatives still exist in living in Cambodia now," he said. "They melted those iron mines to produce as guns, swords, javelins, and other daily households including axes, knifes, and chisels for the king at that time," he added.

"According to the analysis on potteries, those sites were constructed in the 11th or 13th century," Ea Darith said.

At the same time, Apsara Authority also found the ancient Chinese ointment containers which Khmer imported from China. "Khmer and Chinese people got married and lived at Angkor Wat region at that time. So we could find them," he said, adding that those ancient Chinese ointment containers were made in 12th or 13th century.

"Our excavation of the sites was stopped temporarily because our experts need to take those materials for laboratory and took photos to print on books for keeping for next generation to research. There are five sites of iron works here and we will excavate one more in the future at the area," according to Ea Darith.
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Life in focus

WHEN Age photographer Simon O'Dwyer first visited Cambodia in 1997 to photograph the landmine clearing work being done by AusAID and the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, he found a country devastated by war and death.

Under the command of Pol Pot, between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge systematically killed an estimated 2 million Cambodians, almost a quarter of the country's population.

The victims' ''crimes'' ranged from having an education or speaking a foreign language to being a soldier or government official from the previous regime. Entire families were imprisoned and murdered and, even today, the country remains forever changed, with generations lost to the Killing Fields.

Back in 1997, despite Cambodia's continuing struggles with poverty and disease and the pain still so visible on the scarred bodies of so many people, O'Dwyer also saw a resilience and hopeful dignity.

It was a resilience and hope that he explored further on a recent trip back - photographing the displaced people of Andong Village, the Stung Meanchey garbage dump and the historic temples of Angkor.

"For me, returning so many years later, the growth of tourism has taken a small part of that initial charm, but the spirit of the people and their hopes for a happier future remain," O'Dwyer says.

With more than 42 per cent of the country's population under the age of 15, Cambodia is a young country that is trying to move forward; taking what it can from a growing tourist market that draws international visitors to both the memorials of its grisly past and a raw beauty that decades of killing and conflict have not been able to destroy.

Next weekend, as part of the third Ballarat International Foto Biennale, a collection of photographs from O'Dwyer's two Cambodian journeys will be on display. It is just one of the exhibitions being staged at venues in and around the Ballarat Heritage and Arts precinct featuring at least 2000 images from up to 500 photographers.

For festival director Jeff Moorfoot, the decision to include O'Dwyer's work was based on his belief in the photographer's "humanist approach" to the subjects he photographs.

"There is a real empathy with his subjects, rather than sensationalism," Moorfoot says.

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Succulent souvenir of Cambodia

By Julie A. Warner

Our community has been enriched by recent immigrants from many countries, including Cambodia. Being a foodie, my conversations with my Cambodian friends often turn to their cuisine.

So I was excited recently to have the opportunity visit Cambodia with my daughter to experience the food, an important part of their culture.

During the course of this backpacking adventure, we traveled with an experienced guide who knew where and what to eat, be it roadside rest stops or fine dining. The colors, textures, aromas, and fellow diners were most unlike Rochester, but because of my contacts with our local community, strangely familiar as well.

One memorable stop on our journey was near Siem Reap, where we explored the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. After a morning of prowling these fascinating ruins we found ourselves at a very basic, outdoor roadside restaurant.

We dined under the shade of a canopy that provided welcome relief from the broiling sun, at red vinyl-covered tables fashioned from rough wood. The kitchen was also outdoors, without the benefit of shade, hidden behind a rather flimsy temporary wall. We wondered what was going on behind that wall!

Wanting to sample a traditional regional dish, I asked our guide for a suggestion, and he suggested loc lac or marinated beef strips with lime sauce. Our pretty young waitress took my order and I anxiously awaited my lunch.

I was not disappointed -- when the dish arrived, I found lime-marinated beef strips placed delicately upon a bed of green lettuces, red tomatoes, and golden fried potato wedges with a lightly fried egg placed on top.

To accompany my dish there was the common condiment of cracked black pepper, salt and lime wedges, the ingredients to make a dipping sauce by squeezing the lime wedges and mixing the juice with the salt and pepper.

I eagerly tasted the beef, and found it to be tender to the bite, sweet yet tangy to the taste and balanced by the richness of the fried egg. I savored each bit and was amazed that one could find such cuisine in such a humble roadside restaurant.

When I came home, I wanted to recreate this lime-marinated beef in my own kitchen.

This is the recipe I modified and shared with my family with great success.

Even though I do not have Angkor Wat in sight as I relish my loc lac I can still smell, see and savor a traditional Cambodian meal in my own home. Enjoy, enjoy!

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