New Straits Times, 15 April 2017: A travel story on the many popular temple sites to visit in Angkor.
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.
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.
Mitch Hendrickson shares a new paper that was published last month in PLoS One on the construction dates of the Baphuon. It’s Open Access.
First Direct Dating for the Construction and Modification of the Baphuon Temple Mountain in Angkor, Cambodia
PLoS One, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0141052
Architecture represents key evidence of dynastic practice and change in the archaeological world. Chronologies for many important buildings and sequences, including the iconic temples of medieval Angkor in Cambodia, are based solely on indirect associations from inscriptions and architectural styles. The Baphuon temple, one of the last major buildings in Angkor without textual or scientifically-derived chronological evidence, is crucial both for the context and date of its construction and the period when its western façade was modified into a unique, gigantic Reclining Buddha. Its construction was part of a major dynastic change and florescence of the Hindu-Mahayana Buddhist state and the modification is the key evidence of Theravada Buddhist power after Angkor’s decline in the 15th century. Using a newly-developed approach based on AMS radiocarbon dating to directly date four iron crampons integrated into the structure we present the first direct evidence for the history of the Baphuon. Comprehensive study of ferrous elements shows that both construction and modification were critically earlier than expected. The Baphuon can now be considered as the major temple associated with the imperial reformations and territorial consolidation of Suryavarman I (1010–1050 AD) for whom no previous building to legitimize his reign could be identified. The Theravada Buddhist modification is a hundred years prior to the conventional 16th century estimation and is not associated with renewed use of Angkor. Instead it relates to the enigmatic Ayutthayan occupation of Angkor in the 1430s and 40s during a major period of climatic instability. Accurately dating iron with relatively low carbon content is a decisive step to test long-standing assumptions about architectural histories and political processes for states that incorporated iron into buildings (e.g., Ancient Greece, medieval India). Furthermore, this new approach has the potential to revise chronologies related to iron consumption practices since the origins of ferrous metallurgy three millennia ago.
Download the paper here.
Reconstruction work at the Baphuon, an 11th-century pyramidial temple in Angkor Thom have finally been completed, after 50 years of work. The temple was reopened in a ceremony earlier this month.
Cambodia completes Angkor temple renovation ‘puzzle’
BBC, 03 July 2011
Fabled Cambodian ‘puzzle’ temple reopens to public
AFP, via The Straits Times, 03 July 2011
Cambodian ‘puzzle’ temple reopens after 50 years
Bangkok Post, 03 July 2011
Solved puzzle reveals fabled Cambodian temple
AFP, via The Independent, 03 July 2011
Have you seen those ultra-hard jigsaw puzzles? The one with no picture on the cover to refer to, and worse, with no edges to mark out the border? The Baphuon temple in Angkor sounds pretty much like the same thing – but thankfully the restoration work is almost complete.
Cambodian temple puzzle nearly complete
AFP, 28 October 2009
… the meanwhile edition. Meanwhile? Yes, while much of the focus this past two weeks have been about the inscribing of the new World Heritage sites (including George Town, Malacca and Preah Vihear), life goes on in other parts of Southeast Asia.
After a monumental effort by the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient, the largest reclining Buddha in Cambodia has been restored in its original position at the Baphuon and is now open to the public.
Sorry for the belated post, folks! There was just so much to write about that filtering the pictures to publish took some extra time. In previous Adventures in Angkor we’ve visited the jungle temple Ta Prohm and ,of course, the famed temple Angkor Wat. The latter has become somewhat synonymous with the entire Angkor, and in fact if you’re read closely at the whole slew of Angkor articles that came out this week you’ll notice that the less informed pieces call “Angkor Wat” being bigger than previously thought. In reality, Angkor Wat is just one section of a now much larger network of temple complexes – perhaps the most iconic, but not nearly the largest:
Angkor Thom is many times larger than Angkor Wat, which by itself is the size of six football fields. And the even huger rectangular plot that we call the Western Baray was a man-made reservoir. Although no longer in use and now only half filled, one can immediately appreciate the immensity of Angkor’s water management system that has made the news this week.
Before we start, here are the places we’ll be visiting in this section of Adventures in Angkor:
1. The Southern Gopura
2. The Bayon
5. The Elephant Terrace
6. The Suor Prat Towers
16 July 2006 (Canoe) – More news on the reopening of the partially-restored Baphuon temple.
Part of ancient Cambodian temple opens to public as restoration drags on
An initial attempt to refurbish the monument, one of the oldest and largest temples at the famed Angkor complex, started in 1960, but work stopped a decade later as Cambodia slid into a long civil war, and during the Khmer Rouge regime all the reconstruction plans were destroyed.
Work resumed 11 years ago and, now, for the first time, one section – known as the eastern pavilion – has opened to the public. A team of French archaeologists, funded by the French government, hopes to complete the $5.7-million US project in 2009
18 May 2006 (IOL) – Another piece on the restoration of Baphuon in Cambodia.
Cambodia’s Baphuon emerges piece-by-piece
Visitors can view a 300-meter section of the temple’s eastern face, as well as walk around the perimeter to watch the reconstruction of a 70-meter-long reclining Buddha that was built onto Baphuon’s lowest terrace several hundred years after the 11th-century temple was constructed…
The most pressing problem at the start of Royere’s quest was the missing plans for fitting the temple back together. But working in Royere’s favour was a large archive of photographs of Baphuon dating back to the early 20th century.
Using these visual records and the surviving portions of facade as a template, Royere was able to determine where the stones scattered about the jungle should go. Workers would walk through the vast “stone field” looking for the block with the right shape, size or ornamentation.
Angkor Cities and Temples by C. Jaques
Angkor: A Tour of the Monuments by T. Zephir and L. Invernizzi
Angkor: Cambodia’s Wondrous Khmer Temples, Fifth Edition (Odyssey Illustrated Guide) by D. Rooney
The Treasures of Angkor: Cultural Travel Guide (Rizzoli Art Guide) by M. Albanese