The cradles of the Khmer nation
In the beginning was the Kbal Romeas Cave. Nobody knows for how long it was inhabited. Archaeologists found marine shells and ceramics at the site dated 5370 BC. Carbonnel and Delibrias dated the place to the New Stone Age in 3420 BC, corresponding to the Neolithic Revolution. The amazement of the Angkorian temples makes to neglect other historical – and pre-historical – times of the Khmers. The grandeur of Angkor did not come from night to day – Phnom Penh wasn’t built in a night. It is actually the result of a long historical process. The lovers of Angkor must study the previous date with careful attention to understand the process.
Unfortunately or challenging, the Southeast Asian Paleolithic time is a mystery. Scholars have found too little to determine certainties about the origins of the Southeast Asian peoples, including the Khmers. It gives the opportunity to certain political interests to manipulate origins in their benefit – read for example the 2010’s Lonely Planet edition of Thailand suggesting a Thai dominion of their actual land in a very primitive era.
Phnom Kbal Romeas (in Khmer ក្បាលរមាស), is translated Rhinoceros Head Hill.
This is the reason of a monument to a rhinoceros at the NR33.
The place, explored until the 1960s, before the war, is today ignored by the growing tourism to Cambodia – fortunately or unfortunately. The cave is a wonderful temple of nature, with several passage and vegetation. Some small altars to Buddha care some of its corners, some in dark, others illuminated by the rays of the sun coming from open roofs.
A place really to enjoy, either if you like archaeological research or nature.
See some photos of my visit on June 23, 2012 to the site with my students of communication. I am planning a video documentary of the place after gathering more information to this hidden wonder.