I have been to the Ankgor Wat temple complex, near Siem Reap, four times. It’s a fascinating tourist attraction, but there is one carving, among literally thousands, that stands out above the rest. It is found at Ta Prohm Temple. The temple was built between the late-1100s to early-1200s by King Jayavarman VII and dedicated to his mother. Today, it is “shrouded in dense jungle” and “fig, banyan, and kapok trees spread their gigantic roots over stones, probing walls and terraces” (tourismcambodia.com). “It took 79,365 people to maintain the temple including 18 great priests, 2,740 officials, 2,202 assistants, and 615 dancers” (ibid.). But it’s that stone carving that it most unforgettable. One particular trip, which I made in 2009 with two elders, three deacons, and my oldest son, Gary, stands out in my mind.
I asked our guide, hired out by the Kazna Hotel in Siem Reap and of the Buddhist faith, what he thought this particular creature was. He said he had no idea what it was and added, “They must have had a really good imagination.” The question such a response raises is, “How did they know to imagine that?!”
Well, a group from Canada was following close behind our group of seven from Denver, Colorado. A son asked his father for an explanation of the carvings on the pillar, and dad replied with some authority, “Son, that was their version of a geological timetable.” Of course, it begs the follow up, “How did 12th-Century Khmer people, well before Darwin and others planted their geological seeds, know of such a timetable?” Furthermore, this “timetable” looks nothing like anything you will ever see in a textbook–a man above it and a monkey below it. Based upon what fossil evidence did they create their carving? There must have been hundreds of fellow “explorers” viewing these temple ruins with us in the few hours we were there. Some of the fascinated people spoke in languages I cannot understand, but body language was pretty telling. Others, Americans, British, Australians, and Canadians, all seemed to see that carving for what it most apparently was. No one said, “That’s a rhino or pig.” They called it a Stegosaurus.
How many other similar discoveries await reclamation from jungle vegetation, archaeological excavation, and geographic exploration? In the different disciplines of science and history, man uncovers gems like Angkor Wat’s Ta Prohm from time to time. Such clear, incontrovertible evidence from a time before our modern “war” between evolutionists and creationists begs to be examined with unprejudiced eyes. While some may never change their mind regardless of how many items are offered into evidence, I believe that there are a great number of people out there who are honestly, objectively looking for truth. The Stegosaurus at Ta Prohm near Siem Reap, Cambodia, might be the item that convinces many!