[Talk] Looking Beyond the Temples: Exploring the Residences of the Ancient Angkorians

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Readers in New York may be interested in this talk by Dr Alison Carter at the Archaeological Society of Staten Island on Sunday, 16 September.

Looking Beyond the Temples: Exploring the Residences of the Ancient Angkorians
Dr. Alison Carter
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Oregon

Angkor, centered in the modern nation of Cambodia, was one of the largest pre-industrial settlements in the world and has been the focus of more than a century of epigraphic, art historical, and architectural research. However, few scholars have examined the lives of the people who built the temples, kept the shrines running, produced the food, and managed the water. This presentation will focus on Dr. Carter’s recent work with the Greater Angkor Project examining Angkorian habitation areas and specifically the excavation of a house mound within the Angkor Wat temple enclosure. Through this multidisciplinary research, we aim to better understand the nature and timing of occupation within the Angkor Wat temple enclosure and the types of activities taking place within an Angkorian household.

Source: September 2018: Dr. Alison Carter, “Looking Beyond the Temples: Exploring the Residences of the Ancient Angkorians” | Archaeology Society of Staten Island

P’teah Cambodia project website

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P’teah Cambodia is an archaeological project run by a couple of my friends, Drs Miriam Stark and Alison Carter about household archaeology in Cambodia. They have set up a project website – check them out and their current fieldwork in Battambang below:

P’teah​ or ផ្ទះ is the Khmer word for house. We call our project P’teah Cambodia because we investigate ancient residential spaces from the Pre-Angkorian (6-8th centuries), Angkorian (8-15th centuries CE), and Post-Angkorian (15-17th centuries CE) periods.

Angkor is one of the largest preindustrial settlements in the world and has been the focus of substantial scholarly attention. Despite more than a century of epigraphic, art historical, and architectural research, however, we still know little about the people of Angkor: who built the temples, kept the shrines running, produced food, managed the water, and farmed the crops that supported the empire. Studying past households and their activities is important for understanding daily practices of people in the past. Our project explores the roles of households and non-elites in the Cambodian past.

Source: P’teah Cambodia

The household archaeology of Angkor Wat

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Excavations at Angkor Wat. Source: Khmer Times 20160707

Dr Alison Carter’s article for the Khmer Times on her work on household archaeology at Angkor Wat.

Excavations at Angkor Wat. Source: Khmer Times 20160707

Excavations at Angkor Wat. Source: Khmer Times 20160707

Household Archaeology at Angkor Wat
Khmer Times, 07 July 2016

When you picture Angkor Wat, you might think of the imposing and elegant temple surrounded by a thick forest of trees. However, archaeologists now know that when Angkor Wat was built, it was surrounded by a series of mounds that are likely places where people lived.

Angkor Wat is just one temple in the Angkorian Empire, the heart of which covered an area of 1,000 square kilometers and may have contained a population of as many as 750,000 people. Investigating the question of where Angkorian people lived is one focus of the Greater Angkor Project (GAP), a collaborative research program between the University of Sydney and the APSARA Authority, directed by Dr. Roland Fletcher.

One way to begin understanding the lives of the non-elite members of Angkor is by excavating their households. Through excavations of their living spaces, archaeologists can understand the daily practices of people in the past. This kind of work can also tell us more about the variation between different households, communities and settlements, as well as the differences between elites and non-elites. In this way, we can come to understand Angkorian society from the ground up.

Full story here.

Profile on Dr Alison Carter

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Dr Alison Carter. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160704

The Phnom Penh Post’s feature on Dr Alison Carter, a personal friend of mine, and her work in household archaeology in Cambodia.

Dr Alison Carter. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160704

Dr Alison Carter. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160704

Digging beneath the surface
Phnom Penh Post, 04 July 2016

For many expats, Cambodia is no more than another country to be ticked off the list of places to spend two years before moving on to the next posting. But that’s not the case for archaeologist Dr. Alison Carter.

Currently based in Siem Reap, American Dr. Carter is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

She first came to Cambodia in 2005 to work with the Lower Mekong Archaeological Project at Angkor Borei in Takeo Province, and fell in love with the country.

“My first trip here in 2005, I spoke no Khmer and knew very little about the country and yet the people I met were incredibly generous with their time and energy. They were willing to work with me and so I kept returning.”

Full story here.

Alison Carter’s Day of Archaeology post at Ta Prohm

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My friend and colleague Dr Alison Carter is featured in the The Day of Archaeology, a project highlighting what archaeologists really do (hint: we don’t dig dinosaurs). Dr Carter is currently in Cambodia, working in the Ta Prohm temple.

The Greater Angkor Project at Ta Prohm, Cambodia
Day of Archaeology, 11 July 2014
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Relooked: The Chams, identity and archaeology

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Last week I featured a piece on the Phnom Penh post by anthropologist David Lempert about the Cham and statelessness, which suggest how archaeology can help the Cham reconnect with their lost heritage. Three scholars working in Cambodia (one of which is Alison in Cambodia) reply with their disagreements to the archaeological examples in Lempert’s argument.

[22 October update: You can find the full-length article (as the Phnom Penh Post article was cut for space) in Alison’s site here.]

Identity beyond origin: The Cham
Phnom Penh Post, 17 October 2008
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