samedi, décembre 23, 2006

Cambodian maps with archeological sites

News From Cambodia N° 0660-E


Khemara Jati
Montreal, Quebec
December 13, 2006

We are happy to reproduce below an article from Cambodge Soir of Tuesday, December 12th, 2006, raising an inventory of Cambodia archeological sites. Bernard Philippe Groslier said that the archaeology is the history. It is even the part of our ancestor’s testimony, the least altered by the subjectivity of the written texts. We shall come back with B. P. Groslier concerning the legends of the angkorian civilization development. We shall be back also on this question with the discovery of a boat’s wreck during XVIth century, castaway off our coasts with its invaluable load of merchandise.

Our congratulations go to Bruno Bruguier who achieved this inventory with the financial support of the Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient – Far-East French School (Efeo).

We wish that the same census and the recording will made in the whole of territory occupied by the Khmer Empire at the zenith of her expansion, which is in Thailand, in Laos and in Vietnam, with the ancient names of places given by Cambodians of the time. Indeed Louis Malleret was able to determine the site of Oc Ev thanks to the indications given by Cambodian inhabitants of the region.

It is important to notice that the concentration of the inhabitants in the region of Angkor is not the same nature of nowadays and of the Angkor era. Indeed Angkor was the capital of Cambodia and also the centre of agricultural production. Nowadays, the human concentration is recent and the inhabitants live mainly on the tourism. The agricultural production is then unimportant.

Does not this observation ask for an explanation ? For it should not necessary to return to the explanations given by B.P. Groslier in the article « The Hydraulic Town Of Angkor: Exploitation or Overexploitation of the Land? »? (Bulletin of Efeo, 1979, LXVI, pages 181 - 202; we also find this article in « Mixtures on the Archaeology of Cambodia », Bernard Philippe Groslier, Ed. Reprinting of Efeo N ° 10, Paris 1998; also let us indicate an interesting biography of B.P. Groslier in « Honoring to Bernard Philippe Groslier », supervised by Georges Condominas, Editions of the School of the High Studies in Social Sciences, Paris 1992).

It is desirable that anyone who is interested in the History of Cambodia, need to read and read again this article to understand the inevitable end of the Angkor civilization. On the other hand ask also questions on Ayuthia agricultural production. Nowadays, the future of a nation does not lie in the development of its economy, in particular in the industries with high added values ? That is in the investments in the education and the research ?

Cambodge Soir
Tuesday, December 12th, 2006
Archaeological patrimony of Cambodia
Provincial maps to value the archaeological variety of the kingdom

(Translation unofficially by Khemara Jati)
Started more than a decade ago, the immense inventory work of the archeological sites of the kingdom launched by the Far East French School - l'École française d'Extrême-Orient - (Efeo) in association with the Ministry of Culture is finished today. More than 4 000 sites were listed, described and mapped, a painstaking job intended for the researchers and for the authorities on which Efeo decided to present to the public in general. From today, an archaeological map of the whole country is available at Carnets d'Asie and in all the good bookshops. Before the end of the year, six provincial maps (Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kompong Chhnang, Kampot, and the zone of the Mekong's pond) will be on sale, nine others will be on the market on next April (Oddar Meanchey, Siem Reap, Pursat, Preah Vihear, Takéo, Phnom Penh-Kandal, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng and Kompong Cham). The general map showing a global sight of the density of sites, without distinction of times, is a priori intended for the scientific community for which it will constitute a precious tool to understand the logics of activity of the territory in the course of the centuries.
Just a look allows moreover to notice that it overlaps almost perfectly with a contemporary map of the population density. “Therefore some exceptions for the province of Preah Vihear, very rich in an archaeological point of view but totally depopulated. It is a part of interesting cases to be studied”, explains Bruno Bruguier, responsible for the project “inventory” in Efeo. Do the provincial maps show more evident practical interest for the layman. For any province, all the known sites - from major temples to the simple hillocks - are localized in a exhaustive way, most complexes (Banteay Chmar, Sambor Prey Kuk, Koh Ker, Preah Vihear...) being the object of a “zoom”, a plan of an extreme precision realized from air photos. Then these maps can also guide the amateurs of old stones in zones the most underestimated by the realm, even if we can regret that only main roads are indicated.
These first by-products of the Efeo's inventory provide multiple interests. First, they supply to the authorities and to the actors the management tool of the patrimony development, up to there incomplete, even non-existent. Also the World Bank already sought the Efeo's expertise in order to appreciate the archaeological patrimony of zones aimed by several construction sites as of the RN6 construction or still the installation of high-tension lines between Laos and Stung Treng. Matched by the air plans, maps will allow the authorities to develop the tourist potential of certain sites by taking into consideration their environment, which can be useful when it will be a question of building an access road in complex set of temples. Finally, the distribution of these tools to the public at large aims at opening to the tourist development the variety of the provincial patrimony, when the efforts of the decision-makers and the interest of the general public concern essentially on Angkor (read below). Soren Seelow

Angkor and the Cambodian archaeological “desert”
The Efeo’s inventory has for objective to value the spatial wealth, and chronological, the Khmer archaeological patrimony when this one amounts very often to the only angkorian complex and to the period which is associated to it. “There is today an enormous hiatus between the focalisation on the Angkor's site and the works dedicated to the rest of the provincial patrimony”, explains Bruno Bruguier, responsible for the program Efeo's “inventory”. “This inventory invites the angkorian myth to get out for the benefit of a spatial approach of the Khmer civilization's development.”
In 1991, when the main lines of the conservation of the patrimony's policy were outlined, the efforts quite naturally concerned first and foremost to Angkor, cultural jewel which it was necessary to protect at all costs because of its intrinsic wealth and which the rest of the patrimony was still largely inaccessible. Fifteen years later, this focalisation on Angkor and some big sites is always of current events, threatening to relegate whole pieces of the Khmer architectural history in the forgetfulness research and of the tourism, warns the researcher. “Angkor, which does not need money, continues to receive from it, while more threatened secondary sites receive nothing because they are not rather profitable or not enough informed. This hyperfocalisation is made to the detriment of the variety of the patrimony and the human sciences in Cambodia: the history, the ethnology, the anthropology are abandoned... There is hardly only the archaeology, and still, the angkorian archaeology”, he regrets.
A fast comparison between two regions mapped by Efeo underlines the importance which there is to protect and to study archaeological zones not presenting an evident tourist interest. “In Svay Rieng, we knew in 2001 only 25 sites. The inventory allowed bringing to light new 250, among which only two manifest a tourist interest. At Preah Vihear, to 156 known sites added 150, among which 63 give a potential for the tourism. The province of Svay Rieng is thus very poor from the architectural point of view, but it is an element very important for the knowledge of ancient Cambodia former because it represents the geographic origin of the Khmer civilization”, explains Bruno Bruguier.
If this detailed knowledge of the patrimony is necessary for the secondary sites, it is as much as for sites which having a tourist potential, he estimates : “the economic development of sites as Koh Ker is made today without taking into account researches realized in the past. We reproduced a western model of management of the patrimony which privileges a fast tourist development to the detriment of the study. It would be more logical to base the plans of development on detailed studies, of course for the research, but also to assure a minimum of coherence in the tourist exploitation of these sites”.

Cambodge Soir
Tuesday, December 12th, 2006