German-Cambodian exploration of Cambodian
caves and karstphenomena
From the 27.12.95 to the 2.2.96 the first German-Cambodian exploration
of Cambodian caves and karstphenomena took place in the south of Cambodia.
The participants were Michael Denneborg, Björn Grün, Daniel Gebauer,
Michael Laumanns, Matthias Schnadwinkel und Stefan Vogt.
During the campaign 11,5 km of caves were explored and surveyed and
three ancient cave temples from the 6th century (Funan period) were discovered.
This success was only possible with the personal support from the minister
of culture Mr. Nouth Narang and the effective organisation from his personal
secretary Mr. Khuon Chamroen and Mr. Ek Buthan who accompanied the campaign
the whole time. We are also very greatful for the technical support from
the German ambassador Dr. W. Treskow and his staff. The fundamental basis
for the success of the campaign was the financial funding by the German
minister for 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 by tourists
- Training of local people
The results can be summarized as follows:
- During the campaign 37 caves with a total length of 11.5 km were surveyed.
The caves are situated in the Province of Kampot. The longest Cambodian
cave is Roung Dai Ho near Kampot and has a length of 1.8 km. 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 safe
access is possible.
- In three caves Roung Vihear Tuk, Roung Vihear Preah, Roung Prasat ancient
temples and artefacts from the 6th century AD were found (photo 2, 3 and
4) which show evidence of an indian culture in this area. We are sure that
further scientific research will provide new knowledge about this time
in Cambodian history.
- For three caves we consider a good potential as touristic show caves.
Necessary for an inevitable longterm benefit is the careful conversion
to a touristic 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 cave Dai Ho. Another cave is Roung Bat
Khteas together with Vihear Tuk. Roung Bat Khteas has some impressive galeries
and flowstone passages. In addition, one of the three ancient temples is
situated in the nearby Vihear Tuk and the surrounding countryside is very
scenic. The road to the cave has to be improved. The cave Roung Preah Nipean
near Kampot Trach with a modern temple and Buddha statues gives the opprtunity
for a show cave with very little effort in a scenic countryside.
- During the whole campaign we were accompanied by Mr. Khuon Chamroen
and Mr. Ek Bhutan. They were introduced to the basic principles and technique
of cave exploration and documentation. For a further development of the
touristic potential of the caves we highly recommend further 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 appropiate saftey standards, enlargement of passages, illumination,
advertisement, training of guides, nature and cave protection. A participant
of the campaign in Cambodia, Stefen Vogt, is member of the society „Kluterthöhle
e.V.“ so that a great part of the training could take place under his supervison
(the Kluterhöhle is a large show cave in Ennepetal/Germany which is
also used as an underground sanatory). The program should include the visit
of show caves in Belgium and France and information about their development.
The complete expedition report (120 s., many maps and colour photos)
can be ordered for ca. 14 $ + post fees at my E-Mail adress: Jens@gi.rwth-aachen.de.