LiDAR talk in Bangkok

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Another talk for readers in Bangkok – this one by Damian Evans on LiDAR in Angkor.

Using Airborne Laser Scanning to Uncover, Map and Analyse Ancient Landscapes in Cambodia & Beyond
A Talk by Dr. Damian Evans
Date: Thursday, 4 February 2016
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: The Siam Society

Traditionally, scholarship on the Angkor period has focussed on three main areas: architecture, inscriptions and art history. In recent years however there has been increasing interest in the human and environmental context of the temples, and archaeologists are beginning to understand much more about the urban and
agricultural networks that stretched between and also far beyond the well-known monuments of places like Angkor. Even though the cities that surrounded the temples were made of wood, and the water management systems were mostly made of earth, we can still very clearly see and map the traces that remain on the surface of the landscape using remote sensing techniques such as aerial photos and satellite imagery. Until recently, however, archaeologists who focussed on the mapping methods faced one very serious limitation: the fact that vegetation covers much of the areas of interest, and limits our ability to see and map these ancient features. Since 2012 however archaeologists in Cambodia have been using the technique of airborne laser scanning or “lidar”, which has the unique ability to “see through” vegetation and map archaeological remains, even underneath thick forest or jungle. This presentation will outline past, present and future projects involving lidar, including presenting some preliminary results from the latest lidar campaign in 2015, which increased coverage from Angkor to include a wide array of sites across Cambodia, and discuss potential applications in other countries in Southeast Asia including Thailand.

Angkor's past foretell's Angkor's future

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15 August 2007 (Sin Chew news and other news sources) – Finally, a story that relates the buzz about the redrawn Angkor map to events today. Given the renewed interest in the water management system of ancient Angkor, and the theorised failure that would have led to its abandonment, how is the Angkor today coping with the stress on its water management system? Not very well. Siem Reap is lined with hotels and guesthouses, all causing a tremendous drain in the local water systems and potentially undermining the ancient temple structures. When I was at Angkor last month, the Siem Reap river was heavily polluted as a result of the huge numbers of visitors and resettlers to Siem Reap; more alarmingly, the river level was only half of what it would usually have been despite being the rainy season. It interesting to note that the Apsara authority is taking note of Angkor’s history repeating – hopefully, measures can be taken to balance both the conservation needs and the economic needs of the country.

New Study On Ancient Angkor City Is A Wake-up Call For Cambodian Conservation

A new study about the vast extent of the ancient city of Angkor and reasons for its demise is a wake-up call for Cambodia to be more vigilant in its efforts to conserve a centuries-old heritage, an official said Wednesday (August 15th).

The study _ published recently in a U.S. science journal _ represents a new tool for preventing over-exploitation of Angkor, Cambodia’s main tourist attraction, said Soeung Kong, a deputy director-general of Apsara Authority, the government agency managing the site.

“The findings are eye-opening for us. They awake us to a greater need for safeguarding (the ancient city),” he said.

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The world's first megapolis

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15 August 2007 (The Independent) – I seem to see two main recurrent themes emanating from the Angkor stories that have popped up over the last two days. The first is the fall of Angkor, now with greater evidence to its apparent failing water management system. The second theme is the enormity of the ‘city’ (incidentally, the word “Angkor” is a variant of the sanskrit word meaning ‘city’), now seen as at least 3-10 times larger than originally thought. This new shift has also meant that the temple complexes are not cities unto themselves, but nodes in a larger network of an entire ginormous city.

Metropolis: Angkor, the world’s first mega-city
The discovery that the famous Cambodian temple complex sits in the midst of a vast settlement the size of London, which flourished until the 15th century, has astounded archaeologists – but also baffled them: why did it disappear? By Kathy Marks

The huge sandstone temples of Angkor, built nearly 1,000 years ago and unearthed from the Cambodian jungle in the last century, are considered one of man’s most outstanding architectural achievements. Last year more than a million tourists wandered through the ruins and watched the sun rise over the main temple’s distinctive towering spires.

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Angkor engineered its own demise

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14 Aug 2007 (News in Science) – Still more Angkor stories buzzing in the news, and I expect to be posting a few more similar stories today. This story focuses on the fall of Angkor and the failed water management system thesis.

Angkor engineered its own demise
Dani Cooper

An international team of archaeologists has used radar technology to confirm the Cambodian temple of Angkor Wat was surrounded by the pre-industrial world’s most extensive urban sprawl.

In today’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report that NASA radar technology has helped reveal an ancient city, hidden beneath tropical vegetation.

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Australia's raiders of the lost wat

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14 Aug 2007 (The Canberra Times) – Unsurprisingly, the Canberra Times focuses more on the Australian archaeologists who worked on this project, however the map was a collaborative effort between Australian, French and Cambodian archaeologists.

REVEALED: Australia’s raiders of the lost wat

Australian archaeologists using complex radar and satellite technology to map the medieval city of Angkor have discovered more than 70 new temples scattered across a vast area of farmland and forests in north-west Cambodia.

University of Sydney archaeologist Damian Evans said, “It’s huge. We’ve mapped a massive settlement stretching well beyond the main temples of the World Heritage tourist area in Siem Reap.

“We’ve found the city was roughly five times bigger than previously thought.”

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Researchers map Angkor's ancient sprawl

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14 Aug 2007 (The Daily Telegraph) – The article also features a slideshow of images that you should also check out.

The Daily Telegraph, 14 Aug 2007

Researchers map Angkor’s ancient sprawl
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

The largest urban sprawl on the planet in medieval times was in fact 10 times bigger than thought, rivalling the size of Greater London.

Carpeted today with vegetation, obscured by a cloak of low-lying cloud and raided by thieves, Angkor in Cambodia once thrived between the 9th and 16th centuries, reaching a peak of many hundreds of thousands of people in the 13th century

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