He Sold Away His People’s Heritage. He’s in the Jungle to Get It Back.

But Toek Tik said he quit looting in the late 1990s after being disturbed and saddened to find human bones under a statue he was excavating.

Cambodian officials have marveled at how Toek Tik mastered the logistics of temple looting, using compass points to divine the locations of long-buried objects, bringing them to sites they did not know existed and speaking with authority on the nuances of Khmer-era art.

Once an object was excavated and sold, Toek Tik said, he did not spend a lot of time tracking it. So he was surprised, he said, when researchers first showed him “Adoration and Glory (2003),” one of three lushly illustrated books by Latchford and a co-author, Emma Bunker.

The statue on the cover, “Skanda and Shiva,” was one he recalled stealing from Prasat Krachap, a temple at Koh Ker.

He grew animated during one videotaped interview as he re-enacted how he had crawled into the temple’s hidden vestibule to remove it and another statue, “Skanda on a Peacock,” which is also featured in Latchford’s book.

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