Last year, independent researcher Kent Davis made the news with his theory that Angkor temples were a monument to women and to this end was hoping to analyse and quantify the traits of every apsara/devata image (over 1,700 in all). The Phnom Penh Post recently carried an update on Davis and his work and features, quite prominently, the discussion that on this website about Davis’ work (which you can read here).
What didn’t really come through in the PPP article was theÂ paper on the facial pattern recognition study presented at the International Conference on Pattern Recognition in Istanbul, Turkey (it was buried somewhere in the middle of the article). The Cambodian Daily has a better-written paper on the article which you can read on Davis’ site, along with a download link to the facial recognition paper. The work is still very much in a preliminary stage, but quite promising and may potentially find correlations between types of faces with ethnicities or locations within the temple complex. It will be interesting to see what kinds of patterns emerge from a deeper analysis of the quantified attributes of the apsara/devata carvings emerge.
Sleuth researches enigmatic Angkor girls
Phnom Penh Post, 20 August 2010
The many faces of Angkor Wat
The Cambodian Daily, via www.devata.org, August 2010
Florida-based researcher, publisher and robot manufacturer Kent Davis is rapidly gaining an international reputation as the sleuth of Siem Reap, a new age detective delving into what he sees as one of the greatest mysteries of ancient Angkor Wat â€“ the 1780 images of anonymous and mostly bare-breasted women depicted in carvings throughout the iconic structure.
Commonly known as apsaras (or, as Davis prefers, devatas), these female images were mostly accorded little significance.
But Davis, a former resident of Siem Reap and a regular visitor to Temple Town, is sure heâ€™s onto something. Heâ€™s sure that these women represent something decidedly significant, but heâ€™s not quite sure what.
Who are they, he asks, and why are there so many of them depicted throughout the great Khmer temple, not to mention other temples in the Angkorian complex?
Davis is now bristling with excitement because he has science on his side, and heâ€™s certain that soon some answers will be revealed.