Phnom Penh (VNA) – There has been scientific evidence showing that Cambodians have been cultivating and producing rice since the early Neolithic period.

Phnom Penh Post reported that in July last year, Thuy Chanthourn, the deputy director of the Institute of Arts and Culture of the Royal Academy of Cambodia and deputy president of the Cambodian Historians Association, brought samples of black rice fossils found in the basement of Preah Ko Temple in Thala Barivat district, Stung Treng province, to the laboratory of the Australian National University (ANU) to conduct experiments to date the fossils.

With technical support from an archaeological and anthropological specialist at the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences, Chanthourn successfully examined the rice which has since become the earliest scientific dating of early cultivation of the grain in Cambodia.

Experimental results show that the black rice fossils date from about 900 years to 1,000 years ago. Therefore, this scientific experiment has unveiled the oldest example of rice production in Cambodia, he said.

In addition to the new evidence, Chanthourn also presented results of other studies conducted on ancient rice husks at Banteay Kou Circular Earthwork sites, east of the Mekong River, a site dating to around 2,000BC.

Chanthourn’s study showed that rice has been the mainstay cereal of Southeast Asians since the Neolithic period, which began around 12,000 years ago and ended as civilisations started to rise around 3,500BC.

According to research books of the Stung Treng provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts, during the French colonial era, black rice was so rich people would collect and scatter it on the ground to wish well to one another.

Thala Barivat natives have regarded the black rice sample used in the experiment as a cultural treasure left behind from the ancient ancestors since the construction of Preah Ko Temple. The black rice is still referred to today as the “glorious rice” locally./.