Hotels in Bagan’s protected zone in limbo

The Myanmar government is deciding between granting special exemptions or demolishing some 25 hotels that have been illegally built in the protected area of Bagan.

Hoteliers Left in Limbo in Bagan
The Irrawady, 22 August 2016

The government remains undecided on whether to grant official approval to unsanctioned hotels that were built in Bagan’s famed archaeological zone without the permission of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture.

Existing laws prohibit commercial buildings in Bagan’s archaeological zone but for 25 hotels that have already been built, the ministry is debating whether to allow or demolish them, said Aye Ko Ko, director of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library, at a press conference on the ministry’s 100-day plan in Naypyidaw on Friday.

“According to the law, hotels, motels and guesthouses can’t be built in archaeological zones unless the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture approves. This approval cannot be authorized by local authorities or our department,” said Aye Ko Ko.

Full story here.

Conservation plan for Gua Tambun

The Perak State government announced last month plans to revitalise and conserve the Gua Tambun rock art site in Ipoh, a site I am very familiar with. The plans include constructing an entrance and public facilities, but more alarmingly, an awning to protect the paintings from damage. This is a really bad idea, because it represents a major environmental change to the rock shelter (not to mention as being practically unfeasible).

Gua Tambun. Source: The Star 20160309
Gua Tambun. Source: The Star 20160309

Working to save Tambun Cave
The Star, 08 March 2016

Realising the importance of the preservation and conservation of all archaeological and heritage sites in Perak, the state government is set to revitalise the Tambun Cave by building facilities to ensure that the place does not lose its lustre. The caves are famous for its pre-historic drawings,

State Tourism, Arts, Culture, Communications and Multimedia Committee Chairman Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohd Radzi told MetroPerak that the state government recently finalised the conservation plan for Tambun Cave including the proposal to build a proper entrance and other public amenities.

She said RM120,000has been allocated for the construction, which will commence this month.

Full story here.

Tourism growth in Bagan a source of worry

Not altogether unexpected that the opening up of Myanmar and growing numbers of tourists to the famed Bagan complex is a source of worry for the continued preservation of the site.

Myanmar’s ancient city of Bagan is victim of its own success [Link no longer active]
Dalje, 03 June 2015

The city of Bagan, one of Myanmar’s most recognised and visited historical sites, is under pressure from growing hordes of tourists, despite regulation to conserve the site.

At the 11th-century Shwesantaw pagoda, one of the taller structures, “you can see hundreds of visitors at sunset every evening,” said Win Zaw Cho, chairman of Tourist Guides Association in Bagan Zone.

“Everyone who visits Bagan wants to see sunset or sunrise over the ancient temples and pagoda. It is a big, big demand and becomes a threat to old pagodas,” he said.

About 30 per cent of the more than 2 million tourists who visited Myanmar last year went to Bagan, according to the Culture Ministry.

Indian team reflects on Ta Prohm restoration

The Archaeological Survey of India has been working to restore the Ta Prohm temple for over a decade now. The temple is famous for the trees growing into the structure (and was the picturesque backdrop to one of the Tomb Raider movies), but this state of nature interacting with architecture brings with it a unique set of conservation challenges.

Cambodia-2593 - We have to get to the root of the problem..

Restoring Cambodia’s Ta Prohm temple challenging: ASI
India Gazette, 07 May 2015

The overlapping of trees and man-made structures at Cambodia’s Ta Prohm temple made the Archeological Survey of India’s restoration work difficult, so they had rope in IIT-Chennai to instruct them in structural engineering.

In a video “India-Cambodia Relations – A Labour of Love” highlighting the role Indian has played in restoration of Ta Prohm, the third most visited site after Angkor Wat and the Bayon temple in the Angkor region, posted online by the external affairs ministry on May 5, Indian archaeologists spoke about the challenges they faced in restoration.

“The restoration work at Ta Prohm temple was quite a challenging task as about 150 huge trees are growing in the complex, and some of them are growing over the structures,” ASI director general Rakesh Tewari in the video.

When the ASI took over the restoration charge in 2003, Tewari noted the temple was “all crumbled down” and resettling the monument wasn’t an easy job.

Full story here.

Angkor aerial survey also has serious nature conservation potential

Along with second Lidar survey of Angkor, the data obtained from aerial mapping of the areas promises to be a boon for future nature conservation works, particularly with forest cover and endangered tree species tracking.

Archaeologist Damian Evans at Beng Melea. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20150428
Archaeologist Damian Evans at Beng Melea. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20150428

Mapping tech holds promise
Phnom Penh Post, 28 April 2015

Aerial mapping techniques used to produce two new studies into forest canopies around the Angkor temple complex could provide a major boost to future conservation efforts in Cambodia and other tropical countries.

The first of the studies combined very high resolution (VHR) imagery with plant field data, while the second combined VHR imagery with images taken from Google Earth to produce detailed maps of the tree species in the Angkor Thom complex.

According to the studies’ authors, the methods could be used to monitor the presence of endangered or protected tree species, as well as to produce accurate estimations of the quantity of timber present in forests – data essential to implementing incentive-based conservation schemes such as the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program.

“In a few hours of flying, we can collect data over hundreds of square kilometres that would take decades to acquire on the ground,” said Dr Damian Evans, one of the reports’ authors.”>

Full story here.

The German-Cambodia Conservation School

A feature on the German-Cambodia Conservation School and their work in training Southeast Asian conservators.

Training in the German-Cambodia Conservation School. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20141003
Training in the German-Cambodia Conservation School. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20141003

Germany helps preserve heritage
Phnom Penh Post, 03 October 2014
Continue reading “The German-Cambodia Conservation School”

Iconic Ta Prohm trees to go

It’s a shame to see them go, but removing them seems necessary for the continued well-being of the temple (and not to mention the safety of visitors!). Four trees from the famed Ta Prohm temple will be removed because their continued existence within the temple structure destabilises it.

Ta Prohm Tree. Source: The Phnom Penh Post 20140902
Ta Prohm Tree. Source: The Phnom Penh Post 20140902

Temple trees to go: authority
Phnom Penh Post, 02 September 2014
Continue reading “Iconic Ta Prohm trees to go”

The sad state of Gua Tambun

These news stories were posted by Liz Price in a comment on the recent post about Gua Tambun, but I have a particular interest in the site so I’m re-posting them here. Graffiti has always been a problem ever since the site was open to public in the 1970s.

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Heritage site not treasured
The Star, 09 April 2014

Walls of Gua Tambun vandalised with paint and sketches
The Star, 05 April 2014

Gua Tambun jadi mangsa vandalisme
Sinar Harian, 05 April 2014
Article is in Bahasa Malaysia
Continue reading “The sad state of Gua Tambun”

Applications open for the 2013 German-Cambodian Conservation School

An opportunity for museum professionals in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam to get training in museum conservation techniques.

Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Phnom Penh
Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Phnom Penh

In co-operation with the German Archaeological Institute, the German Apsara Conservation Project and the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz, the GCCS organizes 6-weeks-courses for two participants per course in restoration and conservation of archaeological objects. During the first 5 weeks, the participants get to know the basics in bronze, iron and ceramic conservation in the lab of the Memot Centre. The leading teacher is Ms Seng Sonetra assisted by Mr Tuy Sophea. Then the participants change to Angkor Vat where the team of Prof. Hans Leisen gives a 1-week introduction in stone conservation techniques.

More details here.

Borobudur's stupas get slipcovers to protect from ash

The authorities in charge of Borobudur announce new measures to protect Borobudur’s stupas from volcanic ash.

Borobudur’s 73 stupas given slipcovers
Jakarta Post, 06 November 2012
Continue reading “Borobudur's stupas get slipcovers to protect from ash”