Torp Chey Kiln Discovery
The Torp Chey kiln, located at the site of the 12th century Beng Mealea temple, about two hours’ drive from Angkor, is a remarkable discovery. FOKCI has been especially pleased to help support this project, which is being led by Cambodian archaeologist Ea Darith, Deputy Director of the Apsara National Authority, with collaboration from Don Hein, a leading excavator of Southeast Asian kiln sites.
Ceramic technology, highly prized and often kept secret, spread to Southeast Asia from China. Torp Chey provides exciting evidence of Cambodian innovation in traditional kiln design. Unlike similar sites at Buriram, in Thailand, the Torp Chey kiln was found in an undisturbed condition, with its chimney intact. It is the largest kiln site known to exist in all of Southeast Asia (measuring 22 meters in length, 12 meters in width, and divided into 3 main chambers with a most unusual design). Torp Chey is unique as an example of a late Angkorian kiln and is the first kiln found in Cambodia where brown glaze ceramics were fired (previously excavated kilns produced green glaze and unglazed wares only).
The discovery of the Torp Chey kiln, which may lead to the subsequent excavation of additional kilns (there are 8 or more mounds nearby that may be kiln sites), represents a major step in illuminating the history of Khmer ceramics, and, more broadly, the history of ceramics in mainland Southeast Asia.