Cambodia lends spectacular sculpted wall from Banteay Chhmar to Cleveland Museum of Art

via, 15 October 2017

The Cleveland Museum of Art on Saturday opened a fascinating new exhibition focusing on a wall removed from a Cambodian temple by looters, but later recovered by the government.

Source: Cambodia lends spectacular sculpted wall from Banteay Chhmar to Cleveland Museum of Art (photos) |

Heritage education for kids

An article on Heritage Watch’s excellent school programmes in Cambodia, teaching schoolkids the value of heritage as an investment in the future protection of sites.

Students learning at Banteay Chhmar. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160713
Students learning at Banteay Chhmar. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160713

Children—A New Defense Against Looting?
Cambodia Daily, 13 July 2016

For years, archaeologists excavating pre-Angkorian sites in Banteay Meanchey province unsuccessfully attempted to stop the looting of the area’s temples and buried treasures.

Heritage Watch, a group created to protect the country’s archaeological and historical sites, determined that education was the remedy. So they trained villagers and monks living near the sites, as well as commune and community leaders, government officials and teachers.

Full story here.

Banteay Chhmar and sustainable community-based tourism

A feature on sustainable community-based tourism through the example of Banteay Chhmar.

Banteay Chhmar
Banteay Chhmar

Banteay Chhmar: How Cambodia’s ancient cities are boosting tourism and community development
IBT Times, 24 June 2016

In 2008, Global Heritage Fund began exploratory conservation work at the site and, in partnership with the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and the APSARA National Authority established a wide-ranging conservation, master plan and community development project at the site.

Part of this has involved the development of the Community-Based Tourism (CBT) to help local people living and working around Banteay Chhmar both acquire a deep understanding of the site and benefit from it economically and socially. Mobilising local people around the protection of endangered monuments is fundamental to GHF’s work and is critical for creating projects, which dually serve social and heritage preservation needs.

There will always be arguments over the impact that tourism has on historic sites and local people with the footfall in places like Angkor resulting in calls for tourist caps, but the CBT approach is entirely focused on sustainability. While private businesses benefiting from tourist hotspots retain their profits, the CBT income from visitors is for the benefit of the villagers and, to date, has seen funds reinvested in initiatives such as waste collection, a children’s library and the opening of a local restaurant.

Full story here.

Lidar reveals more, much more, of the cities of Angkor

A new paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science has been grabbing the headlines in the last few days: the first insights from the Lidar acquisition of Angkor. It is the most extensive use of Lidar in an archaeological context to date, which brings to greater clarity the urban sprawl of Phnom Kulen, Banteay Chhmar, the Preah Khan of Kompong Svay, Sambor Prei Kuk, Longvek and Oudong. Combined with the earlier acquisition of the core Angkor area in 2012, the Lidar data has uncovered a tremendous amount of information about settlement patterns in these areas.

The data gathered presents a big-picture view of several themes of interest: population flows, urban centres, water management and collapse, and provides starting points for many of these future lines of inquiry. To be sure, the patterns in landscape and features uncovered by the Lidar is spectacular, but many of these features will need to be ‘ground-truthed’ and investigated in real life. (Alison has a good commentary about the potentials and limitations of the Lidar data). All in all, a very exciting start to what is surely a new phase of archaeological understanding of Angkor, and hopefully one with repercussions to the rest of the region as well!

Areas scanned in 2012 and 2015. Source: Journal of Archaeological Science
Areas scanned in 2012 and 2015. Source: Journal of Archaeological Science

Airborne laser scanning as a method for exploring long-term socio-ecological dynamics in Cambodia
Journal of Archaeological Science, doi:10.1016/j.jas.2016.05.009

Revealed: Cambodia’s vast medieval cities hidden beneath the jungle
The Guardian, 11 June 2016

Medieval cities hidden under jungle in Cambodia revealed using lasers, archaeologists say
AFP, via ABC News, 12 June 2016

New research reveals further secrets of Khmer history
Phnom Penh Post, 13 June 2016

Ancient urban networks around Angkor Wat discovered
AP, via Jakarta Post, 13 June 2016

New technology reveals cities hidden in Cambodian vegetation for thousands of years
Washington Post, 13 June 2016

Archaeologists Reveal Vast, New Medieval Cities In Cambodia
Tech Times, 13 June 2016

Jungle Of Cambodia Reveals Multiple Cities Between 900 to 1400 Years Old
Science World Report, 13 June 2016


Early Khmer societies developed extensive settlement complexes that were largely made of non-durable materials. These fragile urban areas perished many centuries ago, and thus a century and a half of scholarly research has focussed on the more durable components of Khmer culture, in particular the famous temples and the texts and works of art that are normally found within them. In recent years however there has been a considerable effort to broaden the perspective beyond conventional approaches to Khmer history and archaeology. Remarkable advances have been made in the domain of remote sensing and archaeological mapping, including the application of advanced geospatial techniques such as airborne laser scanning within studies of heritage landscapes at Angkor and beyond. This article describes the most recent applications of the technology in Cambodia, including the results of a newly-completed campaign of airborne laser scanning in 2015—the most extensive acquisition ever undertaken by an archaeological project—and underscores the importance of using these methods as part of a problem-oriented research program that speaks to broader issues within history and archaeology.

Article link

Archaeologists in Cambodia have found multiple, previously undocumented medieval cities not far from the ancient temple city of Angkor Wat, the Guardian can reveal, in groundbreaking discoveries that promise to upend key assumptions about south-east Asia’s history.

The Australian archaeologist Dr Damian Evans, whose findings will be published in the Journal of Archaeological Science on Monday, will announce that cutting-edge airborne laser scanning technology has revealed multiple cities between 900 and 1,400 years old beneath the tropical forest floor, some of which rival the size of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

Link to Guardian article here.

Banteay Chhmar to become archaeological training ground

A deal between the School of Oriental and Asian Studies and Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture will see Banteay Chhmar in northwest Cambodia become a training field for archaeologists and heritage professionals.

Banteay Chhmar. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160321
Banteay Chhmar. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160321

Remote Angkorian Monument Ready for Makeover
Cambodia Daily, 21 March 2016

Banteay Chhmar, protecting Cambodia’s ‘second Angkor’
Nikkei Asain Review, 22 March 2016

Over the centuries, looting, theft and mismanagement have plagued the 12th century Banteay Chhmar temple complex in Banteay Meanchey province. But the sprawling Angkorian monument is about to get a second life as an international training ground for future archaeologists and monument restoration specialists.

After an initial agreement was signed in December, the Ministry of Culture and the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) are now hammering out details to set up a field school for post-graduate students—many of them from Southeast Asia—and young Cambodian professionals.

“The overarching aims are to work with established Cambodian experts in the field to train the next generation of heritage managers with the necessary practical and critical skills to lead heritage work in the Southeast Asian region,” Ashley Thompson, head of SOAS’ Center of South East Asian Studies, said in an email interview.

Full stories here and here.

Massive statue heads found at Banteay Chhmar

Giant statue heads have been found at Banteay Chhmar, protected because they were buried underneath half a metre of soil laid by repeated flooding.

Statues found at Banteay Chmar. Phnom Penh Post 20141118
Statues found at Banteay Chhmar. Phnom Penh Post 20141118

Three statue heads unearthed
Phnom Penh Post, 18 November 2014
Continue reading “Massive statue heads found at Banteay Chhmar”

Ancient silver plate returned to Cambodia

A Hungarian collector has returned to Cambodia an Angkoran-period silver plate, which is thought to have been recovered in the vicinity of Banteay Chhmar.

Silver plate returned to Cambodia. Phnom Penh Post 20120109
Silver plate returned to Cambodia. Phnom Penh Post 20120109

Ancient silverware returned to Kingdom
Phnom Penh Post, 09 January 2012
Continue reading “Ancient silver plate returned to Cambodia”