Not all gloomy at the Thai-Cambodian border

Around the same time there was a new standoff at Preah Vihear, a reminder that it’s not all tense and gloomy between Thailand and Cambodia. Researchers working on the Living Angkor Road project are helping young Thais and Cambodians celebrate their shared history and culture by revealing their findings on a local level. The Living Angkor Road Project is a cross-country project to chart the ancient highway between Angkor in Cambodia and Phimai in Thailand. Archaeology is a pretty powerful political tool to fuel nationalistic senses, but it can also an equally powerful tool to promote friendship by highlighting similarities and exchanges between cultures as well.



Project on Thai-Cambodian border bridges cultural ties through learning about a shared history

Bangkok Post, 24 March 2009

The emphasis on wars and territorial conflicts in national histories has pitched neighbouring countries against one another and fuelled ultra-nationalism. Thailand and Cambodia are no exception. But a group of Thai-Cambodian academics believe they can help turn it around through a new kind of history classroom.

A group of students from Thailand and Cambodia had a taste of it recently when they met at Buri Ram province to learn how to use the neutral tools of modern science and equipment to help them appreciate their common ancestral roots.

Their two main classrooms were at Phanom Rung Historical Park and Ban Kruat. At Phanom Rung, the students learned together that the religious structures were built based on the sun’s position, which originally penetrated its rays through all 15 doorways of the temple on equinox days, both at sunrise and sunset.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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