Good morning, we are going to explore the ruins of Angkor Wat in this blog today. This was a French-produced documentary by Frederic Wilner. The documentary is called Angkor Rediscovered and it has a run time of 53:01.
Over 150 years ago, the ruins of Angkor Wat were discovered. There have been few answers about Angkor Wat in the decades following their discovery. How was it built? Who built it? Why was it built? How did it reach its size? What was the temples’ real purpose? Where was the heart of the city? Why was it abandoned? There have been many theories over the years. Today with technology and new archeological digs on the site, there may be new answers about Angkor Wat.
The episode begins with the abandonment of Angkor Wat. Forrest covered the area, hiding the city beneath a canopy of green. Today it is difficult to understand the city’s scope and why it occupied such a large territory. The civilization that had built it had vanished. Today, a helicopter armed with lidar will take to the skies to peer beneath the canopy to map out the city. The lidar will be able to create a map of what the city looked like and the outlines of old buildings.
The lidar reveals a multitude of palaces and other wooden structures that have since disappeared. It also discovers that the city was supported by three reservoirs. Angkor Wat was made up of successive towns built around temples. Each successive king built a temple in Angkor Wat, signaling the beginning of his reign. Why were these temples built? Why did each king feel the need to build a new temple? The answer may be found in a city miles away from Angkor Wat.
When the king died, this city was abandoned and left in the jungle. The city was called Koh Ker. Today, archeologists study the ruins and can reconstruct the site. A large pyramid was built on the site. To reach this pyramid, one would have had to pass through three smaller chapels. The pyramid was home to the symbol of Shiva. There were a lot of statues on the site. However, despite this Koh Ker was abandoned after the king died. The site was intact for years until it was pillaged by traffickers. The ruins of the site now leave archeologists with a puzzle.
It will take time to reconstruct and restore the statues at this site. Fragments and pedestals have to be moved piece by piece. It was the French that rediscovered Angkor Wat. The archeologist who discovered the site carefully drew out what he saw and these drawings help present-day archeologists with what the site looked like. While the statutes are being moved to be scanned, the archeologists look at the methods that were used to take the apart. Many of the statues were taken apart with dynamite, while others were chiseled into pieces. Once these pieces are scanned, archeologists will be able to virtually reconstruct the statues. About 10,000 pieces were recovered from the site, some pieces are recognizable others are not. It is hoped that one day the statues will be put together again. Mathematicians put together the fragments of the Shiva statue virtually. The statue was the most impressive found in the Koh Ker site and would have been surrounded by four smaller statues.
What can this Koh Ker site tell us about Angkor Wat? Why was Angkor Wat built? What made its people abandon it? Will the mystery of Angkor Wat be solved? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out.
The section on Heidelberg University and their part in putting the statues back together virtually were interesting because of the application of math in archelogy. I guess your math teachers were right about still using math in the real world. I knew the scientific method had applications in history but I never would have thought math had the same applications. I was also impressed with the French archeologist’s foresight in drawing what he discovered when he discovered Angkor Wat and the surrounding area. The computer graphics of the restored statues were very well done as well. However, since it really did not focus on the history of Angkor Wat, I would skip showing this documentary to a history classroom. This could have applications for a STEM class.
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