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Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia, at sunset

Research projects

Exploring Angkor from every angle
The diverse work conducted by the Angkor Research Project reflects the broad scope of our interests and expertise.

Greater Angkor Project III

Researchers: Professor Roland Fletcher, Emeritus Professor Jeffrey Riegel, Professor Miriam Stark, Dr Christophe Pottier, Dr Martin King.

Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Project, $907,493.

Partners: École Française d'Extrême Orient, University of Hawai’i-Manoa, National University of Singapore, Royal University of Fine Arts, Cambodia, Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap.

Summary: Angkor, the vast low-density Khmer capital founded in the 9th century CE, was abandoned some time in the past 500 years. The processes, rate and period of its demise are still unknown. This project aims to identify: the ancestry of Angkor’s social and spatial organisation in the first millennium BCE; the way the urban complex operated; to diagnose why, when and how it was abandoned and to reveal the transformations from the 16th to 19th centuries that created the modern landscape out of 3000 years of cultural continuity.

LiDAR survey of Angkor, Phnom Kulen and Koh Ker

Researchers: Professor Roland Fletcher, Dr Damian Evans, Dr Martin King.

Funding: National Geographic, Japan-APSARA Safeguarding Angkor; École Française d'Extrême Orient, University of Sydney, World Monuments Fund, ADF Kulen; HUNINCOR, SCA/INRAP Airport team, $US209,150 for 2010-11.

Partners: Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap, Japan-APSARA Safeguarding Angkor, École Française d'Extrême Orient, University of Sydney, World Monuments Fund, ADF Kulen, HUNINCOR, SCA/INRAP Airport team.

Summary: To carry out a LiDAR (light detection and ranging) mission over important archaeological sites in north-west Cambodia in 2012. The parties agreed to jointly develop, plan, facilitate, fund and undertake a program of LiDAR data acquisition.

View outcomes.

Chinese trade and diplomacy in South-East Asia from the 9th to 19th century CE

Leader: Dr Baoping Li.

Funding: Australian Research Council (Future Fellowship), $700,445.

Partners: Peking University, Beijing, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, The Smithsonian's Museum of Asia Art - Freer and Sackler Galleries, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia.

Summary: China exported ceramics in large quantities to South-East Asia over the past millennium through tributary trade, private commerce and smuggling. These ceramics, especially porcelain, provide the longest single, consistent, international physical index of trade and diplomacy. Comparing them, especially porcelain, reveals the degree to which the distributors operated independent of the Chinese state and the long-term pattern of China-South East Asia interaction. Research is supported by historical texts and the archaeology of Chinese ceramics from kilns and ports in China, shipwrecks and key land sites in South-East Asia such as Angkor in Cambodia, Trowelan in Indonesia, Ayutthaya in Thailand and Singapore.

From Paddy to Pura: the origins of Angkor

Leader: Dr Louise Shewan.

Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Project, $340,000.

Partners: Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Cambodia, Universität Ulm, University of Oxford, University of Otago, James Cook University.

Summary: This project explores the origin and rise of the state in ancient South-East Asia. Through the investigation of sites in Cambodia and Thailand and using an array of innovative technologies, the research will contribute to the global investigation of humankind's trajectory toward ever increasing complexity.