My name is Dr. Alison Carter and I’m co-Field Director of excavations currently taking place at the temple of Ta Prohm, part of the Angkorian civilization, near modern-day Siem Reap, Cambodia. These excavations are part of the Greater Angkor Project (GAP) Phase III, which is focused in part on investigating Angkorian habitation patterns. Angkor was one of the largest pre-industrial civilizations in the world, however most research has largely focused on monuments, sculpture, and inscriptions. Recent work by the Greater Angkor Project has been looking at where people were living around some of these famous temple enclosures (last year we worked at Angkor Wat). We have an international team with participants from Cambodia, the US, Australia, Germany, Thailand, and Vietnam.
On a typical day, we leave the Robert Christie Research Center in Siem Reap at 7:30am and make our way to the site of Ta Prohm. We currently have multiple excavation trenches open, which are each being run by a different experienced archaeologist with our Cambodian workmen. Several of the workmen have worked on archaeological projects in and around Angkor for many, many years.
We are also currently joined by several archaeology students from the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, who are getting experience working on an archaeology project- from excavation, to recording/paperwork, and interpretation.
We’re only just over halfway through our field season, but we’ve already found quite a bit of evidence for habitation in the (currently forested) area around the Ta Prohm temple. A large inscription at Ta Prohm mentions that thousands of people lived in the enclosure and it is exciting to find the remnants of stoves and cooking pots where people ate and lived. We’re also learning a lot more about the complex process in which people created and built up mounds around the temple.
Working in the rainy season (a necessity based on the US academic calendar) can present it’s own challenges, but we’re well-prepared with plenty of plastic tarps covering our units.
I am grateful to have an opportunity to work with GAP and would like to especially give credit to Dr. Roland Fletcher (the instigator of GAP), Dr. Miriam Stark (Co-Investigator and director of many recent GAP III field seasons), our supportive colleagues at the APSARA Authority, especially Ros Borath and An Sopheap, the University of Sydney, and the Australian Research Council.