The paintings of Angkor Wat and the ‘dark’ ages

Paintings in Angkor Wat. Source: Phnom Penh Post 21 June 2014

The Phnom Penh Post’s weekend edition has another story on the Angkor Wat paintings, and this story nicely contextualises the find with the work by my colleagues at the University of Sydney who have been working there far longer than I have – shedding light on the so-called ‘dark ages’ of Angkor between the empire’s ‘fall’ and subsequent ‘rediscovery’.

Paintings in Angkor Wat. Source: Phnom Penh Post 21 June 2014
Paintings in Angkor Wat. Source: Phnom Penh Post 21 June 2014

Walls of hidden treasures
Phnom Penh Post, 21 June 2014

Ignored for decades, these are some of about 200 illustrations found on the walls of the temple that have come under new scrutiny since Australian rock art researcher Noel Hidalgo Tan stumbled on them during his lunch break one afternoon in 2010.

Using technology called de-correlation stretch analysis, first employed in a NASA mars rover mission, Tan enhanced images of the paintings to reveal scenes from the16th century onward, a period long considered the dark ages of Angkorian history.

“My first thought when I enhanced the paintings was ‘Whoa! Cool!’” he wrote in an email from Canberra, where he works at the National Australian University. “I certainly expected something to come out but I was not quite prepared for how elaborate some of them were.”

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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