Ayutthaya’s lesser known sites may be lost in the flood triage

With limited funds to repair the flood damage, some of the lesser-known sites in Ayutthaya may be completely lost as funds for repair are prioritised to more prominent sites.

Ayutthaya
photo credit: BernieCB

Ayutthaya’s ‘forgotten’ temples damned by deluge
Bangkok Post, 11 December 2011

Lesser-known historic sites in the ancient capital were severely damaged by the floods and now that reconstruction has begun they may be forever abandoned in favour of more prominent spots

Walking down splintered side roads in post-flood Ayutthaya recently – among the rotting debris of rubbish mountains, animal carcasses and rusted motor vehicles – I sensed that the aftermath would be harsh. Homes had been destroyed. Large trees had been ripped up by their roots. Many parts of the city still remained beneath water after two to three months of flooding. My task was to seek out small deserted ruins (wat raeng) and countryside temples (wat rad), ones that few locals and tourists have ever heard of, so that I could survey the damage.

This personal research was the saddest academic activity I have ever undertaken. Flooding caused at least one large ruin to collapse into a mound of bricks, fresh cracks split the walls and foundations of other structures, and a centuries-old Portuguese graveyard displaying dozens of skeletons had been transformed into a swimming pool. I realised that some of these historic sites could never be repaired. Ultimately, the questions are raised: What is the value of these lesser known, non-revenue generating, ancient historic structures in a modern city that is rapidly urbanising? What importance will they have for future Thai generations?

Full story here.

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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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