Talk: From Ta Prohm to the Bayon

Readers in Siem Reap may be interested in this talk at the Centre for Khmer Studies on Wednesday. Registration closes tomorrow!

Ta Prohm Temple

From Ta Prohm to the Bayon
Dr. Olivier Cunin
Venue: Center for Khmer Studies, Wat Damnak, Siem Reap
Date: 30 July 2014
Time: 1800-1900

This lecture presents key research findings on the architectural history of the Buddhist Khmer temples that were built during the reign of king Jayavarman VII (1181-c.1220). This comparative analysis was undertaken over the course of fourteen years in Cambodia and Thailand where these temples are mainly distributed. Previous studies have demonstrated that monuments of the apogee of the Khmer empire were the results of various construction phases. The double purpose of this research was to explore the elaboration of the individual architectural history and the global chronology sequence of these monuments associated with the enigmatic Bayon temple in Angkor Thom. To elucidate these four dimensional puzzles, the methodology used was based on the three following “readings”:

• Building archaeology analysis that was elaborated in the early 1980s for the study of civil medieval architecture in Europe.

• Stylistic analysis based on the works of Ph. Stern, who conducted prominent art history research on the Bayon style.

• Archaeometry studies in collaboration with Waseda University (Tokyo) focused on the magnetic susceptibility of the sandstone predominantly used in the construction of the Khmer temples since the 11th century.

Beyond its “stone skeleton”, the original wooden structures that completed the Bayon style temples (end of the 12th century – beginning of the 13th century) were researched and included to the architectural history of each main complex built by Jayavarman VII. The combination of the “mineral” with the “organic” structure in turn allows for new archaeological reconstructions and interpretations of spatial application. In light of this, four hierarchical typologies were identified, which organized the vast architectural program that Jayavarman VII probably thought of so as to manage his entire kingdom.

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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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