Language: English with bilingual abstract in English and French
Between 27th of December 1995 and 2nd of February 1996, a German–Cambodian exploration project on Cambodian caves and karst phenomena took place in the south of Cambodia. It was the first speleological project at all that has been carried out in this country. The German project participants were Michael Denneborg, Björn Grün, Herbert Daniel Gebauer, Michael Laumanns, Matthias Schnadwinkel und Stefan Voigt. During the campaign 11.5 km of caves were explored and surveyed and three ancient cave Shiva temples from the 6th century (Funan period) were discovered.
This successful outcome was the result of great the personal support from the minister of culture Mr. Nouth Narang and the effective organisation by his personal secretaries Mr. Khuon Chamroen and Mr. Ek Buthan who accompanied the campaign the whole time. We are also acknowledging the brilliant technical support from the German ambassador Dr. W. Treskow and his staff. The fundamental basis for the success of the campaign was the generous financial funding by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The speleological campaign had four aims:
- Exploration and survey of the Cambodian caves
- Documentation of archaeological objects
- Recommendation for the use of the caves for touristic purposes
- Training of local staff
The results can be summarised as follows:
During the campaign 37 caves with a total length of 11,5 km were surveyed. The caves are located in the Province of Kampot. The longest Cambodian cave is Roung Dai Ho near Kampot at 1,8 km of length. The main karst areas of Cambodia near Battambang and Stoung Treng could not be visited for safety reasons. We recommend another campaign in this area when access is possible.
In three caves Roung Vihear Tuk, Roung Vihear Preah, Roung Prasat ancient Shiva temples and artefacts from the 6th century AD were found, which show evidence of unexpectedly strong influence by Indian culture in this area. We are sure that further scientific research will provide new knowledge about this period of Cambodian history.
For three caves we consider a good potential as tourist show caves. Necessary for an inevitable long–term benefit is the careful conversion to a tourist cave and the appropriate training of tourist guides. One cave is the Roung Dai Ho together with nearby Roung Nakta. The caves are situated near the town of Kampot close to a road. An interesting round trip can be arranged easily in the Dai Ho cave. Another cave is Roung Bat Khteas together with Vihear Tuk. Roung Bat Khteas has some impressive galleries and flowstone passages. Furthermore, one of the three ancient temples discovered is located in the nearby Vihear Tuk and the surrounding countryside is very scenic. The road to the caves has to be improved. The cave Roung Preah Nipean near Kampong Trach with a modern temple and Buddha statues gives the opportunity to develop a show cave with very little effort in a scenic countryside.
During the whole campaign Mr. Khuon Chamroen and Mr. Ek Bhutan accompanied us. They were introduced to the basic principles and technique of cave exploration and documentation. For a further development of the tourist potential of the caves we highly recommend future instruction in Germany. Part of this instruction should be: principles and basic technique of setting up a show cave such as construction of paths and stairs/ladders according to appropriate safety standards, enlargement of passages, illumination, advertisement, training of guides, nature and cave protection. A participant of the campaign in Cambodia, Stefan Voigt, is member of the society “Kluterthöhle e.V.” so that a great part of the training could take place under his supervision (the Kluterthöhle is a large show cave in Ennepetal/Germany which is also used as an underground sanatory). The training program should include the visit of show caves in Belgium and France and information about their development.
Summary and acknowledgements (English / French) 5
1 General Information for cavers 7
2 The karst areas of Cambodia 9
2.1 Kratie Province 9
2.2 Kampot Province 9
2.3 Development of the south Cambodian karst 11
3 The limestone mountains and caves of South Cambodia 12
3.1 The caves in the Kratie province 12
3.2 The caves in the Kampot province 15
3.2.1 Caves in Phnom Loang 15
3.2.2 Caves in Phnom Toek 18
3.2.3 Caves in the mountain group of Kampot 20
3.2.4 Caves in the mountain group of Kampong Trach 41
3.2.5 Caves in the mountain group of Tuc Meas 57
3.3 Other limestone occurrences 73
Classification of limestone mountains examined in south Cambodia 76
Caves explored during the 95/96 speleological project 77
Press releases 81
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