The normal way of imagining relationships with ancestors in Cambodia is that they demand our offerings of food and merit, and in return, they endow the earth with fertility, wealth, and blessings, making our own paltry lives possible.
Every once in awhile this takes a somewhat different spin than you’d imagine, as with these villagers in Kampot province. Apparently while excavating a Khmer Rouge era gravesite, they came upon a more ancient burial ground, and they liberated a fair bit of valuable jewelry as a result. Whatever we think about the looting (and I hate it, but don’t judge the looters themselves as much as the people who drive the trade through consumption or organization), these villagers then organized a ceremony, replete with Buddhist monks, to give thanks to the dead for their gifts.
UPDATE: It is now clear that the grave in question was not an ancient site, but a mass burial ground from the DK period. There’s a decent article by Seth Mydans in today’s International Herald Tribune, here.