Cambodian School Children have been putting a basic concept of heritage into their lives in their villages.
 Living far from the center of Cambodia in a remote community, 90 Cambodian school children at Banteay Chhmar Primary School are taking an innovative role in their education.  They are taking part in a “Heritage for Kids” Program in an effort to protect the famous architectural, historical and cultural site of Banteay Chhmar from deterioration caused by illegal looting and poor land- used development.

Why has Heritage Watch started training young children?

Young people easily acclimate to their surroundings and need to be oriented towards meaningful relationships. The kids’ understanding of their heritage values should include protection and preservation.  In Banteay Chhmar Primary School the children apply their knowledge, interpreting their understanding to others in their villages and visitors from other countries. 


  1. To provide heritage education to the young school children who were born, attend schools and live within the cultural heritage environment at Banteay Chhmar, so that they understand their own long-standing cultural heritage and values.
  2. To design lesson plans and course material that implements the heritage education program at the levels of primary and secondary schools in Cambodia.



The Heritage for Kids Project involves 90 young school children from two classes at the 5th Grade of Banteay Chhmar primary school.  They are between 10 and 15 years old. The project provides the kids with a basic concepts of tangible and intangible heritage and, through activities—such as using coloring and reading comic books, historic site visits, and museum visits—provides opportunities to explore important ideas.

The lesson plans and educational activities are introduced to the teachers will in advance in order to get them involved in promoting their students’ performance.

The project encourages the kids to start thinking about some of the problems related to looting and the unintended consequences of activities that cause the destruction of the sites.  The students learn that the ignorance about the value of the historical sites gives rise to problems that they can help address. 

The Contents of the Heritage for Kids Program

1.     Defining the terms.  What is heritage?

2.     Different forms of heritage

3.     Natural heritage (features such as a mountain, sea, river, and lake, fauna and flora)

4.     Cultural heritage:

4.1           Tangible cultural heritage

4.2           Intangible cultural heritage

5.     Local heritage: archaeological sites, burials, ancient mounds, kiln sites, early industrial sites and artifacts

6.     Preservation, conservation and management of heritage, in a museum and in the community

7.     Using the coloring book on a site visit

8.     Visiting the Banteay Meanchey Museum

9.     What can we do?  Why is Cambodian heritage so important to you?

The heritage education program normally took place on Saturday afternoons with two sessions: an hour.

The Students of Banteay Chhmar High School

16 students in Grades 11 and 12 at Banteay Chhmar High School, who have been trained in heritage and research methodology by the Khmer-Thai research team of The Cultural Relationship in Mainland SEA Project (CRMA), have researched the archaeological sites at Banteay Chhmar.  These advanced students have joined the Heritage for Kids Project to pass on their knowledge and experience to the younger kids. The advance students led the kids in different groups to historical sites in Banteay Chhmar community.

The Closing Ceremony

On 19 July 2015, the Closing Ceremony of the “Heritage for Kids” Project was organized in Banteay Chhmar primary school with about 150 participants that included the General Director of Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the Governor of Banteay Meanchey Province and representatives of provincial departments, local authorities, and  delegates from Thailand.

The Closing Ceremony celebrated the kids’ understanding of their heritage as they start applying this knowledge and experience in their villages.

Being Noticed by the Outside World

The project recognizes that the kids of the villagers are custodians of Banteay Chhmar’s future, and that they have an important role to play in protecting, preserving and developing their own cultural heritage.

The kids’ activities are being noticed by local people and the outside world. Many tourists have taken photographs of the school activities and have shown genuine interest. Typically, they see it as a good way to educate young people to think and to solve the problems themselves, and to be aware of the common benefits to the public.


Who sponsors the project?

The Heritage for Kids Project was sponsored donors throughout the world and implemented by Heritage Watch in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, APSARA National Authority and the CRMA Project as well as with strong support by Province of Banteay Meanchey and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.


With the success of the “Heritage for Kids” in Stage 1, we will proceed with the Heritage for Kids in Stage 2 “Training in Heritage and Environment” in January 2016.











 Heritage Watch has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund our Heritage for Kids initiative. As well as launching a curriculum we are hoping to reprint our famous comic book, Wrath of the Phantom Army and our children's book, If the Stones Could Speak.

Please visit to make a pledge!

Heritage Watch and MoCFA Museum Exhibit
The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts with support and cooperation from Heritage Watch launched Ancestors of Empire at the Provincial Museum in Banteay Meanchey on Oct. 20th. 

The displays highlight research done in the province by the MoCFA and Australian Researchers at Iron Age sites in Northwest Cambodia. The display is now part of a permanent exhibition!
Heritage education for Thai and Cambodian kids
Heritage Watch has just completed the 6th heritage education for students at Banteay Chhmar.

Heritage Watch provided the training materials for the Khmer-Thai Students Seminar on 16 November 2014 at Banteay Chhmar temple. 

The main aim of this heritage education program is to provide the chance for the young students who live within cultural heritage area to learn their own culture, get better understanding of Ethno-Archaeological field and survey methodology with high tech equipment, and to instill them to preserve, protect and manage their own culture heritage in their communities for the future.
Wrestler Statue to Return!
 According to the New York Times;

An ancient statue of a Hindu warrior, pulled from auction two years ago because of assertions that it had been looted from a temple deep in the jungles of Cambodia, will be returned to that country under an agreement signed on Thursday by Sotheby’s, its client and federal officials.

U.S. Attorney's Office, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Sotheby’s will ship a 10th-century sandstone statue of a Hindu warrior back to Cambodia as part of a court settlement.

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The accord ends a long bare-knuckled court battle over the Khmer treasure, a 10th-century statue valued at more than $2 million. The Belgian woman who had consigned it for sale in 2011 will receive no compensation for the statue from Cambodia, and Sotheby’s has expressed a willingness to pick up the cost of shipping the 500-pound sandstone antiquity to that country within the next 90 days.

At the same time, lawyers from the United States Attorney’s Office in Manhattan who had been pursuing the statue on Cambodia’s behalf agreed to withdraw allegations that the auction house and the consignor knew of the statue’s disputed provenance before importing it for sale.

The accord said the consignor, Decia Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa, who had long owned the statue, “voluntarily determined, in the interests of promoting cooperation and collaboration with respect to cultural heritage,” that it should be returned.

Andrew Gully, a spokesman for Sotheby’s, said the auction house was gladdened that “the agreement confirms that Sotheby’s and its client acted properly at all times.”

Cambodian officials said they were elated by the settlement. “We are very pleased with the help from the American government because so many of our statues are stolen and missing and we want them for the Cambodian people,” said Chan Tani, the country’s secretary of state.

The case has placed a renewed focus on Cambodian sculptures from the Koh Ker region, a once-thriving Khmer metropolis, in American museum collections. Earlier this year the Metropolitan Museum of Art returned two statues that had been prominently displayed in its Southeast Asia gallery after federal investigators showed the museum evidence that the statues, known as the Kneeling Attendants, had probably been illicitly removed from the same temple setting as the statue in the Sotheby’s dispute, known as the Duryodhana.

With the return of those three statues, Cambodia’s quest will now turn to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Calif., where a twin statue to the Duryodhana, known as the Bhima, has been in the collection since 1980. Mr. Tani said officials from the museum plan to visit Cambodia early next year to explore the Bhima’s original site and hold talks about its possible return.

The settlement, filed in United States District Court in Manhattan, declared that all sides agreed that additional litigation “would be burdensome and would require resolution of disputed factual issues and issues of U.S., Cambodian, French Colonial, and other law.” 

In a statement, the United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, said, “Today’s settlement reunites a priceless artifact with its rightful owners, the people of Cambodia.”

 “The United States is not a market for antiquities stolen from other nations,” he added, “and we will continue to track down and return any that are brought here illegally.”

Mr. Bharara’s office had taken an intense interest in the case, at one point sending two prosecutors to the Prasat Chen temple site at Koh Ker, the original location of the statues at issue. The Koh Ker temple complex is in northern Cambodia, some 75 miles from Angkor Wat, and was extensively looted in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Duryodhana, part of a group of sculptures depicting Hindu epics, had stood at Prasat Chen for a millennium before it was broken from its feet and pedestal and spirited abroad, an act of pillage that archaeological experts say took place in the early ’70s.

The dispute over the statue began in 2011 when the Cambodian government asked Sotheby’s to remove it from sale on the very morning it was to be auctioned in Manhattan.

Featured on the cover of the auction house’s catalog for that month, the Duryodhana was described as an unrivaled masterwork. “If one could choose only one sculpture to represent the glory of Khmer art, this figure could fulfill such a challenge,” the catalog said.

While the auction house agreed to pull the statue from the sale, it rejected Cambodia’s request to return it as stolen property. Instead, the auction house told Cambodian officials that it viewed the statue as the lawful property of its consignor, Ms. Ruspoli, and that Cambodia should consider purchasing it directly through Sotheby’s.

United States officials entered the dispute on Cambodia’s side last year, filing court papers that asserted that the statue constituted stolen property under Cambodian law and had entered the United States illegally as a result. In the filing, federal lawyers accused Sotheby’s of trafficking in stolen property and trying to concoct a false ownership trail that would legitimize the statue’s presence at auction.

Sotheby’s vehemently denied the charges and challenged the government’s case, arguing that evidence of when the statue may have been taken was thin and that the Cambodian laws the government was relying on were moot because they were adopted in the early 1900s when Cambodia was still a French colony.

The settlement signed on Thursday specifically said that the federal authorities no longer contend that Sotheby’s or the consignor had done anything to mislead anyone about the statue’s provenance.

Although the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration and customs enforcement branch moved to seize the statue at one point, a court ruled that it should remain under Sotheby’s care until a final resolution in the case.

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"The work of Heritage Watch in developing innovative preserve Cambodia's cultural heritage and to foster responsible tourism represent a 21st century approach to... stemming the trade in illegal antiquities" James Cuno, Director, Center for

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