Over 200 paintings dating to the 16th century were recently discovered at Cambodia's Temple of Angkor Wat, the world's largest religious monument.
Angkor Wat is already famous for its spectacular bas-relief friezes depicting ceremonial and religious scenes, so this newly uncovered series of images only adds to the temple's importance. This map of the temple shows, in red, where the newly found paintings are located.
"The paintings found at Angkor Wat seem to belong to a specific phase of the temple's history in the 16th century A.D. when it was converted from a Vishnavaite Hindu use to Theravada Buddhist," wrote Noel Hidalgo Tan and colleagues in a paper published in the latest issue of the journal Antiquity. Tan is a researcher in the College of Asia and the Pacific at Australian National University.
"Vishnavaite" refers to the fact that the temple was originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. It might have served as a mausoleum when it was first built during the 12th century reign of Suryavarman II (1113–1150 A.D.). "Theravada" refers to the oldest surviving branch of Buddhism.