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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Professor Roland Fletcher: Angkor - New Perspectives from the Greater Angkor Project

14th November 2007, 17:30 to 19:00, The Old Library, Grey College

The Greater Angkor Project studies the extent, duration and demise of Angkor in order to study how it ceased to function; to produce a new chronology of the demise of Angkor and to identify its environmental context. What has been revealed by remote sensing, ground survey and excavation is a vast low-density, dispersed urban complex covering about 1000 sq km. Angkor’s famous temples cluster in the central 200 sq km. of the complex. So far the project has mapped the extent of the water management system, has located key water management structures and has identified the dispersed pattern of occupation along canals and roads and on house-mounds. The demise of the urban complex now has to be reappraised because its was apparently functioning into the 16th century, later than the generally assumed sack in the early 15th century CE. There is also evidence of damage to the canals of the water management system by alterations in water flow, including substantial deposition of sand in the channels suggesting that environmental factors need to be considered as part of the demise of Angkor.

Associate Professor Roland Fletcher is a theoretical archaeologist who completed his PhD at Cambridge University in the 1970s and joined the University of Sydney in 1976. He has been an Academic Guest in Harvard, a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall in Cambridge and a Research Collaborator at the Smithsonian Institution. Recently he was elected as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

At the IAS he will work with Professor Wilkinson's landscape group on modelling and with Professor Coningham on comparisons between Angkor and urban patterns in medieval Sri Lanka. The multi-scalar analysis has some implications for the trajectories of contemporary industrial-based low-density urbanism. The study will be published following the Amerind Foundation conference in March 2008 on Landscape, economy, and power in deep history: towards a new comparative synthesis.


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