I am frequently contacted by people interested in doing fieldwork in Cambodia. For reasons I detail here, this is often difficult. However, there are several schools running fieldwork projects this summer in other parts of Southeast Asia. These are a good introduction to the archaeology of the region.
Ifugao Archaeological Project in the Philippines (Application Deadline: March 16th)
Summer archaeological Field School at Promtin Tai, Thailand (Application Deadline: February 15th).
Summer archaeological Field School in Krabi, Thailand (Application Deadline: February 15th)
Archaeological Fieldwork Opportunities
AIA fieldwork scholarships (Application Deadline: March 1st)
My Facebook feed was atwitter yesterday with news that Beyonce and Jay-Z had visited Angkor. I was also pleased to see that my friend, Kompheak Seng was the one to show them around. Kompheak is an accomplished archaeologist who has undergone training at the University of Hawaii and worked in Cambodia and the Philippines.
Kompheak Seng (sitting to the left of Jay-Z and Beyonce). Photo courtesy of Kompheak Seng.
He told me that he took them to Angkor Wat and the Bayon. (I guess they didn’t have time to see more). He said they were excited to see the smiling faces at the Bayon. Unfortunately, they didn’t have time to pick Kompheak’s brain about Cambodian history and archaeology nor did he get a chance to show them Cambodian delicacies like prahok. Maybe on their next trip!
Curmudgeon month continues here as I take another myth about Angkor to task. This time it’s the silly “Stegosaurus at Ta Prohm” rumor. This myth has been popularized by young earth creationists*, who’ve argued that one particular small carving on a doorway at Ta Prohm depicts a Stegosaurus. Never mind that the entire temple is covered with carvings of fantastic and mythical creatures, this one carving is evidence that humans and dinosaurs co-existed.
Carving on Ta Prohm. This is not a stegosaurus.
I suppose I’m a bit of a curmudgeon and therefore get fairly easily annoyed. One of my biggest pet peeves is the old myth about how the French, specifically the explorer and researcher Henri Mouhot, “discovered Angkor” in 1860. This myth is based on an idea that the Cambodians had no knowledge of their past, and therefore helped the French justify their colonial rule in “restoring a nation to its past grandeur” (Dagens 1995:47). As Angkor has been in the news lately, due to the recent BBC documentary, this factual inaccuracy continues to be perpetuated. It’s time for this myth to die.
A drawing of Angkor Wat by Henri Mouhot, who did not discover Angkor.
Time flies. Back in July I wrote a post for “Day of Archaeology” about our fieldwork at Ta Prohm. You can read that and see photos here.
The logo for our GAP field season t-shirt, showing an image of Prajnaparamita and noting the original name of Ta Prohm (Rajavihara). Design by Pipad Krajaejun.
This is a brief post to advertise the latest issue (March 2014) of DIG Magazine, an archaeology magazine for kids 9-14 on Angkor Wat. I was a consulting editor and got several friends and colleagues to contribute articles to this issue. Stories include:
– A walking tour of Angkor Wat by Alison Carter
-The bronze and stone sculpture workshops by Martin Polkinghorne
-The bas reliefs at Angkor Wat by Alison Carter and Piphal Heng
-LIDAR at Angkor Wat by Damian Evans
-Was it ever a fort? by David Brotherson
-Conservation and preservation of Angkor Wat by Im Sokrithy
The issue is available in well-stocked bookstores. However, an easier option may be to download the Kindle version via Amazon.
One of the most popular recent posts on this blog was “The people who lived at Angkor Wat,” and people seemed especially struck by the image of refugees at Angkor Wat in 1970. I had asked if anyone knew more about refugees staying at Angkor Wat during the war and I was glad to hear from a reader, Teddy, who told me about “Facing the Khmer Rouge: A Cambodian Journey” by Ronnie Yimsut.
In this memoir of the Khmer Rouge period, Ronnie Yimsut describes being told to go to Angkor Wat by Vietcong soldiers, who said there would be food and safety if his family sheltered there. Ronnie recounts that the Vietcong were sending many families to Angkor Wat, and when they arrived the road into the temple was crowded, so they crossed the moat.
It was sunset when Norane carried me into the outer walls of the Angkor Wat. We were both exhausted. We were hungry, but there was no sign of the promised stockpiles of food. The Khmer Rouge had tricked us. Oh, how I hated them. Would we ever get to go home? Where was home anyway? We couldn’t stay in our bullet-riddled house.
The communist guerrillas were very efficient and effective con men. They had massed us into the temple ruins to serve as human shields (p. 34).
Ronnie Yimsut describes spending 7 weeks starving in the Angkor Wat temple before he and his family left for the nearby village of Domdek.
Angkor Wat may have been an important place of refuge for people at many points during the past. A colleague of mine, David Brotherson, wrote his honor’s thesis on the possible re-use of Angkor Wat as a fortification during the post-Angkorian period.
I’m interested in hearing from more people with any thoughts on this topic or other memoirs that might cover Angkor and the Khmer Rouge period. Leave a comment below or feel free to contact me.