Jun 30, 2011
Solved puzzle reveals fabled Cambodian temple
This photo taken on June 17, 2011 shows a general view of the Baphuon temple in Siem Reap province, some 300 kilometers northwest of Phnom Penh. -- PHOTO: AFP
SIEM REAP (Cambodia) - IT HAS taken half a century, but archaeologists in Cambodia have finally completed the renovation of an ancient Angkor temple described as the world's largest three dimensional puzzle.
The restoration of the 11th-century Baphuon ruin is the result of decades of painstaking work, hampered by tropical rains and civil war, to take apart hundreds of thousands of sandstone blocks and piece them back together again.
'When I first saw how devastated the monument was, I never thought we would be able to put it back together,' said Cambodian restorer Ieng Te, who joined the project as a young student in 1960 and was tasked with numbering stones.
'I am so happy and excited that we were able to rebuild our historic temple,' the now 66-year-old said as he oversaw the final construction activities at the site.
On a recent rainy morning workers were adding a final layer of paint to newly-installed wooden staircases at Baphuon, one of the country's biggest temples after Angkor Wat, the largest structure in the famed Angkor complex.
It is one of the last jobs to be done before the temple reopens to the public next week, finally revealing itself in full glory after spending decades in pieces. Cambodian King Sihamoni and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon will be among the first to tour the impressive three-tier temple during an inauguration ceremony on July 3. -- AFP