Fieldwork Opportunity: Unearthing the ancient secrets of Angkor in Cambodia

4 Comments

How would you like a chance in excavating Angkor Wat in 2018? Two of my friends and colleagues, Miriam Stark and Alison Carter are opening up fieldwork opportunities through the Earthwatch Institute; it is a pay-to-volunteer programme, with the proceeds used to fund the excavation.

The civilization of Angkor was long believed to have collapsed, but recent evidence suggests that the people continued living sustainably in the Angkor region after the empire collapsed and the capital moved south. What can we learn about dramatic changes that occurred in their society by studying their daily lives?

Much is known about the kings who ruled the Angkorian Empire from the 9th to 15th centuries, but far less is known about their subjects: the people who lived and worked during this time period and the following the post-Angkorian period (15-17th centuries CE), the so-called “non-elites.”

Previous archaeological work by the Greater Angkor Project suggests that these communities survived political conflicts from rival kingdoms and multiple periods of drought and flooding. We still know far more about Angkor’s rulers than about their subjects. What were their home lives like? How did they manage sustainable households under such climactic and socio-political challenges? Why did they stay after the political capital moved south?

By studying the remains of households, scientists hope to solve some of these mysteries. Join them on this novel archaeological expedition in the quest to uncover the answers to how the Khmer people endured in the face of these obstacles.

Source: Unearthing the ancient secrets of Angkor in Cambodia

Teams Explore Roots of Angkor Civilization

No Comments

29 November 2006 (Earthwatch Institute. released by Newswise) – Discovery Kids is featuring the Origins of Angkor project in Thailand in an episode airing Dec 3 and 10.

Teams Explore Roots of Angkor Civilization

Five seasons of excavations at Ban Non Wat, in Northeast Thailand, have unearthed 470 human burials covering a time span of more than 2,000 years. Earthwatch-supported research at this great moated site, led by anthropologist Dr. Charles Higham of University of Otago (New Zealand), gives clues to the roots of the famous Angkor civilization. A Year On Earth, a new film about students making a difference through participation in scientific research, features some of these discoveries.

“The earliest graves, dating to about 2000 BC, contain the remains of the first rice farmers to settle Thailand from their ancestral homelands in the Yangtze Valley of China,” said Higham, principal investigator of Earthwatch’s Origins of Angkor project. “They were buried with ceramic vessels that were decorated with amazing designs, representing the earliest art in this part of the world.” Some of the lidded pots discovered by Earthwatch teams were large enough to contain the remains of adults, while many newly born infants were buried in smaller versions.

Historians typically attribute the rise of the magnificent Angkor civilization, which also built Ankgor Wat, to external, mostly Indian, influences. Earthwatch volunteers working in Thailand have made discoveries that support Higham’s view that the Angkor civilization sprang, at least in part, from indigenous roots. For example, in about 1200 BC, the descendents of the early farmers mentioned above entered the Bronze Age in grand style.

“Until the investigations at Ban Non Wat, Bronze Age cemeteries contained relatively poor burials, the dead being accompanied by a handful of pots and perhaps some shell beads or bangles,” said Higham. “But at Ban Non Wat, excavators found groups of princely graves in which the aristocrats were accompanied by up to 50 pottery vessels, some of which were large and beautifully decorated with red painted designs.”


Related Books:
The Excavation of Ban Lum Khao (The Origins of Civilization of Angkor, Vol. 1) by C. Higham
The Civilization of Angkor by C. Higham
– Northeast Thailand before Angkor: evidence from an archaeological excavation at the Prasat Hin Phimai by S. Talbot and C. Janthed