The archeologists, geologists, and art historians who spend their days pouring over the temples of Siem Reap province’s Angkor complex, took a break from poking and prodding yesterday to convene and share their findings.
The conference was the 19th annual Unesco-run “Technical Session,” a scientific roundtable mandated by the World Heritage Fund when the Angkor Complex was added to its list in 1992 and attended by the members of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor.
“The experts look into what we have done, then they give us their views concerning what is being done to maintain the site,” said Bun Narith, Director-General of the Apsara Authority, which runs the Angkor site.
According to Mr Narith, the meeting is essentially about providing those charged with the task of both protecting the temples and making them a tourist attraction with scientific feedback.
The number and diversity of presentations paid tribute to the intricacy of the 40,100 hectares Angkor complex: Attendees learned about everything from micro-organisms on the temples’ stones to moat construction to iron smelting sites.
“This was an opportunity to learn about other disciplines,” said Dr Tomochika Tokunaga, an Assistant professor at the University of Tokyo who presented on the apparent cracking of the Bayon temple terrace.
Dr Tokunaga showed, using electrical analyses, that the top of the terrace has begun to deteriorate while a high water content zone that could lead to sever damage has been created under the brittle stone.
The World Monument Fund’s Angkor Program Manager Konstanze Von Zur Muehlen presented on efforts to waterproof the roof about Angkor Wat’s east gallery, which contains the famous bas-relief depicting the “Churning of the Sea of Milk.”
“These meetings help us work with the Apsara Authority,” said Ms Muehlen.
The conference will continue today with more presentations including a planned session on a program run by Italy’s Palermo University that trains Apsara workers in site maintenance and analysis.
“We are working with Apsara to train 20 students,” said Palermo Professor Giovanni Rizzo. “We are also working with the Ministry of of Culture and Fine Arts on putting together the 4,000 stone and wooden statues Apsara has into an international exhibit that can tour the world.”