[Lecture] Examination of Ancient Khmer Defensive Warfare Practices by Paul T. Carter

No Comments

Lecture at the Siam Society, Bangkok on 8 November 2018

Examination of Ancient Khmer Defensive Warfare Practices by Paul T. Carter

DATE: Thursday, 8 November 2018
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
PLACE: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

Did ancient Khmer kings, particularly during the Classic Angkor period, neglect key defensive warfare principles which neighboring civilizations, less powerful and grand than Angkor, practiced centuries earlier? The lecturer argues that while Khmer kings displayed very capable offensive warfare capabilities, they did indeed ignore basic defensive warfare tenets which largely rendered them militarily defenseless. This does not argue that the neglect of defensive warfare principles caused the collapse of the empire, nor that its key rulers, such as Jayavarman VII, completely ignored the defense of Angkor. His construction of Angkor Thom, with its significant walled and moat barriers, certainly illustrates some regard for defense. Neither does this suggest the employment of robust defensive principles would have saved Angkor from potentially debilitating societal changes that affected kings’ ability to respond to threats. The preponderance of available evidence does suggest, however, that at no time did Angkor’s kings conduct key defensive warfare practices that other civilizations used centuries earlier. Such neglect placed the Khmer army at a significant disadvantage against the larger, attacking Ayutthaya Army in 1431, and made it unnecessarily vulnerable to any future enemies. This lecture demonstrates how Khmer kings ignored fundamental defensive warfare techniques. Next, that the Khmers would have been aware of these techniques earlier civilizations had practiced. Finally, it examines possible reasons for such neglect which leads to a broader discussion of Angkor civilization.

Giant sandstone sculpture found near Angkor Thom

No Comments

The excavation conducted by the APSARA Authority and the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre as part of a Field School has uncovered a massive 2m tall statue, a great find for what is just one day of the excavation!

Archaeologists are typically happy to find pottery shards when they excavate a site in Angkor Archaeological Park as too many centuries have passed and too many cities have risen and collapsed for them to expect to find major objects in the ground.

So what occurred Saturday seemed like something that happens only in the movies. On the second day of an excavation in Siem Reap province, a team of archaeologists found a 1.9 meter statue weighing about 200 kg at an 800-year-old site in Angkor Park.

The excavation is conducted by the Apsara Authority in cooperation with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies’ Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. As part of a training program, 10 students from Asian countries, the U.S. and Australia are taking part in the excavation, Mr. Sokrithy said.

Source: For Archaeologists, a Dream Find at Angkor Park – The Cambodia Daily

See also:

Land of fabled temple | New Straits Times | Malaysia General Business Sports and Lifestyle News

No Comments

New Straits Times, 15 April 2017: A travel story on the many popular temple sites to visit in Angkor.

THREE decades of friendship! Now that’s something to celebrate. And to mark the milestone, my friend Mathini Raman and I decided to embark on an adventure together, one that we’ll never forget.

Source: Land of fabled temple | New Straits Times | Malaysia General Business Sports and Lifestyle News

The mystery of Suryavarman I’s temple solved

1 Comment
Baphuon. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160620

Dating of metal fixings in the architecture at the Baphuon temple in Angkor Thom have led researchers to conclude that it was built as the mountain temple of King Suryavarman I who reigned in the 11th century.

Baphuon. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160620

Baphuon. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160620

Metal Findings Give New Perspective on Angkorian History
Cambodia Daily, 20 June 2016

One thing that set Suryavarman I apart from other great kings—to the puzzlement of historians and archaeologists—was that he did not seem to have erected his own mountain temple: Jayavarman V built Ta Keo in the 10th century, Suryavarman II Angkor Wat in the early 12th century and Jayavarman VII the Bayon in the late 12th century.

But that mystery seems to have been solved thanks to cutting-edge research into the iron used to build the Baphuon temple, the second largest structure in Angkor Archaelogical Park after Angkor Wat.

This three-tiered pyramid was the monument that Suryavarman I built, according to carbon-dating of the metal used to hold the temple together.

“It’s very strange that a king with that amount of influence and power didn’t build himself anything in Angkor,” said archaeologist Mitch Hendrickson of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who headed the research team along with archaeometallurgist Stephanie Leroy of the Archaeomaterials and Alteration Prediction Laboratory in France.

Full story here.

Dugout discovered in Siem Reap

No Comments
Dugout boat found in the Angkor Thom district. Phnom Penh Post, 20160411

The remains of a dugout boat, some 13m long, was discovered in Siem Reap and is being investigated for its archaeological potential.

Dugout boat found in the Angkor Thom district. Phnom Penh Post, 20160411

Dugout boat found in the Angkor Thom district. Phnom Penh Post, 20160411

Boat found at Siem Reap work site could be ancient artefact
Phnom Penh Post, 11 April 2016

Archaeology authorities are eagerly waiting to discover the true age of a potentially ancient boat after it was dredged up from the sandy depths in Siem Reap on Friday afternoon.

The 12.83-metre vessel was carved out from a single tree trunk and was unearthed some 7 metres underground at a construction site in Angkor Thom district, Apsara Authority spokesperson Long Kosal said.

A sample of the rare find has been sent for carbon dating to determine its age.

“From our point of view, this is the first boat of its kind that we’ve seen,” Kosal said.

“We cannot make any assumption or conclusion … but we believe this could be from ancient times.”

The boat is now lying submerged in the moat around Angkor Wat for preservation.

Full story here.

Unearthed bronze workshop suggests centralised production

No Comments
Crucible found at workshop site. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160305

A new paper in the BEFEO details the discovery of a large bronze workshop found near the ancient palace in Angkor Thom, which suggests a centralised production of the metal sculptures.

Crucible found at workshop site. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160305

Crucible found at workshop site. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160305

Digging for where the gods were constructed
Phnom Penh Post, 05 March 2016

12th Century Bronze Workshop Found in Cambodia
New Historian, 15 March 2016

One of the most famous bronze sculptures found at Angkor is the West Mebon Vishnu. Dating to the 11th century, the piece now at Phnom Penh’s National Museum is merely a fragment – albeit a car-sized one – of the top half of a reclining Vishnu.

Archaeologists estimate the four-armed Hindu deity’s original length at six metres, which makes it comparable to the largest bronzes in the region. Ancient artists would have spent months slaving over it. Yet where Angkorian bronze makers would have spent those months in toil has long puzzled researchers – until now.

The discovery of a sprawling bronze workshop found adjacent to the ancient Royal Palace of Angkor has gone a long way in solving the riddle. The significance of the site was first revealed during a dig in 2012, but the first-ever comprehensive report was published late last month in the 100th edition of the Bulletin de l’École Française d’Extrême-Orient (BEFEO), a journal that has reported the major archaeological finds of Angkor since 1901.

Full stories here and here.

Categories: Angkor Metallurgy


Typhoon damage to Angkor Thom repaired

No Comments
Angkor Thom restoration. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20151228

The APSARA Authority reports that the damage to Angkor Thom from the 2011 typhoon has been repaired.

Angkor Thom restoration. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20151228

Angkor Thom restoration. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20151228

Angkor Thom restoration complete
Phnom Penh Post, 28 December 2015

Major restoration works have been completed at the former seat of power of the Angkorian civilisation, Angkor Thom, following damage inflicted to the site by Typhoon Nesat in 2011.

Funded and implemented by the Apsara Authority, the project began last year to repair damage to the 12-kilometre outer wall of the enclosure that neighbours Angkor Wat and was the last and most enduring capital of the Khmer Empire.

“Angkor Thom was the centre of the Cambodian empire for 500 years, so restoring it was extremely significant,” said Long Kosal, an Apsara spokesman.

While Angkor Wat remained unscathed, Typhoon Nesat saw many parts of Angkor Thom submerged, bringing down the walls of the 12th-century site and threatening other structures. “The impact of the collapse was very strong, so it was urgent to repair the wall so that no further damage was caused,” Kosal said.

Full story here.