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Cambodia Unveils Restored Library

September 29, 1999

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (AP) _ Cambodia’s queen unveiled a newly restored 800-year-old library within the ruins of Angkor on Wednesday, an event hailed as a major step in efforts to save the ancient city.

The ceremony led by Queen Norodom Monineath was the culmination of a five-year effort to save the crumbling Northern Library inside Bayon Temple. The temple is the second-largest structure at Angkor.

After a performance by traditional dancers within the roofless library, the queen called for additional foreign funding to restore Angkor.

Angkor, with its centerpiece temple Angkor Wat, is Cambodia’s top symbol of national pride as well as its leading tourist attraction.

But many of the complex’s sandstone temples are severely worn by centuries of erosion. The effects of time have been compounded by successive wars and by looters who regularly pillage the poorly protected structures.

The $1 million library restoration was funded by the Japanese government. It is the first of several rescue projects under way at the Bayon.

The library holds no books, but archaeologists say it might have held palm leaf manuscripts at one point.

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