Past Projects

Greater Angkor Project I: Angkor and the limits of pre-industrial urban growth

University of Sydney Staff: Prof Roland Fletcher, A/Prof Mike Barbetti

Funding Bodies: Australian Research Council (Discovery Project)

Funding: AUD 259,000

Partners: École Française d'Extrême Orient, Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap

Status: Funded 2002-2004

Summary: Angkor, the medieval Khmer capital, was the largest pre-industrial, dispersed urban complex on Earth. New estimates of its extent and duration, and new interpretations of its residence pattern and decline will help to clarify the history of the city and to identify the operational limits of pre-industrial dispersed urbanism.

Greater Angkor Project II: Urban Infrastructure, Inertia and Ecology: the growth and decline of Angkor, Cambodia (9th to 16th Century AD)

University of Sydney Staff: Prof Roland Fletcher, Dr Daniel Penny, A/Prof Mike Barbetti, Dr Martin King

Funding Bodies: Australian Research Council (Discovery Project)

Funding: AUD 1,002,630

Partners: École Française d'Extrême Orient, Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap

Status: Funded 2005-2009

Summary: Angkor, the medieval Khmer capital, was the most extensive pre-industrial city on Earth. The city's massive, delicately balanced infrastructure of channels and embankments covered more than 1000 sq km. New integrated analyses of this network's development, operation and failure, and the dynamics of the landscape, will identify the inter-connected role of infra-structural inertia and environmental impact in the demise of Angkor. This study is significant both for identifying the factors that may have limited the maximum size of pre-industrial, dispersed cities and in identifying the past and current environmental risks of urban development in the Angkor region.

Australia emphasises the value of partnerships with developing nations in the Asia-Pacific for the continued stability of our region. Australia has played a significant role in assisting Cambodia toward stability and sustainable growth, and Australian researchers have assisted greatly in the development of individual and institutional capabilities. This project's large, multi-disciplinary research team provides a significant new perspective on a cultural site of global importance and extends active collaboration with Cambodian agencies responsible for managing Angkor - the Asia-Pacific flagship World Heritage site - by providing engagement with world-class research expertise and facilities.

Living with Heritage: Integrating time, place and culture for World Heritage conservation.

University of Sydney Staff: Prof Roland Fletcher, Dr Ian Johnson, Dr Eleanor Bruce, Dr Martin King

Funding Bodies: Australian Research Council (Linkage Project)

Funding: AUD 955,000 (ARC), AUD 170,354 (Industry)

Partners: School of Geosciences, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), École Française d'Extrême Orient, Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap, Horizon Geosciences Consulting P/L, Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Australian Government, Godden Mackay Logan Pty Ltd, ESRI Australia, Leica Geosystems, Finnish Environmental Institute

Status: Funded 2005-2009

Summary: World Heritage conservation in developing countries is challenged by conflicting demands of preservation, economic development and social equity. Managing these demands requires monitoring of the dynamic interaction between natural environment, cultural heritage and contemporary society. Angkor, the great World Heritage site in Cambodia, epitomises the challenge. A joint Cambodian and international team will create a time-based, spatial information monitoring system for site management using Angkor as a test case. The new methodology integrates past and future research, community values, national policies and international heritage best-practice. Research, management and governance come together to reconcile the competing demands of living with heritage.

History in their bones: A diachronic, bioarchaeological study of diet, mobility and social organisation from Cambodian skeletal assemblages

University of Sydney Staff: Dr Louise Shewan

Funding Bodies: Australian Research Council (Discovery Project)

Funding: AUD154,000

Partners: École Française d'Extrême Orient, University of Otago, GNS Science, New Zealand, James Cook University, Australian National University, University of Western Ontario

Status: Funded 2009-2011

Summary: History in their bones: A diachronic, bioarchaeological study of diet, mobility and social organisation from Cambodian skeletal assemblages, combines the methodologies of archaeology, palaeoanthropology, biochemistry and radiocarbon dating to produce the first integrated bioarchaeological examination of the lives of the people of ancient Cambodia from 2nd millennium BC-16th century CE. Characterising change and consistency in the mobility patterns, mortuary behaviour, health status, and the utilisation of food resources, is critical to questions concerning the residential behaviour of agrarian rice growing communities, the Indianization of mainland cultures and the development and demise of SE Asia's most powerful state centred on Angkor.

Website: http://www.intheirbones.info/

Mapping the past using advanced technologies: Satellite applications for uncovering archaeological remains at Angkor

University of Sydney Staff: Prof Roland Fletcher, Dr Arianna Traviglia, Dr Ian Johnson, Dr Damian Evans

Funding Bodies: Australian Research Council (International Linkage Project)

Funding: AUD 116,000

Partners: University Ca' Foscari of Venice

Status: Funded 2008

Summary: This project developed and applied sophisticated satellite remote sensing methodologies for finding and mapping archaeological sites at Angkor, in Cambodia. Long famous for its temples, this World Heritage site is now recognised as a vast, low-density urban landscape. By applying technologies such as multispectral imaging which have never before been used at the site, the research team scanned vegetated areas in order to clarify features that are ambiguous in existing maps and reveal features which would otherwise remain undetected. The research strengthened existing collaborative partnerships between the Universities of Venice and Sydney, was methodologically and technologically innovative, and made a key contribution to further understanding the development of urbanism in medieval Southeast Asia.

The project was run in conjunction with the multidisciplinary, ARC-funded Living with Heritage and Greater Angkor projects, of which this research would form a part. The collaboration built on existing research partnerships formed during Dr Traviglia’s previous Endeavour fellowship in Sydney, in which projects were developed in conjunction with archaeologists, field ecologists, remote sensing specialists, and experts in archaeological computing.

Industries of Angkor: Production and Decline of the Khmer Empire (11th to 15th centuries CE)

University of Sydney Staff: Dr Mitchel Hendrickson (former)

Funding Bodies: Australian Research Council (Discovery Project)

Funding: AUD329,000

Partners: École Française d'Extrême Orient, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, University of Applied Science - Cologne, Flinders University

Status: Funded 2009-2011

Summary: The Industries of Angkor Project (INDAP) is a multi-disciplinary international collaboration working at the city of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay (Prasat Bakan), Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. Based at the University of Sydney, the objective of INDAP is to document the historical production and management of industrial activities (metals, stone, ceramics, settlement) at the purported City of Iron of the Khmer Empire (9th to 15th centuries CE).

Combining archaeological, environmental, and material compositional analyses this project is striving to obtain essential, new information on the development and demise of this specialized centre. In doing so, this work will inform about the politico-economic dynamics and environmental impact of material production during the peak of an Asian state-level society.

Hydraulic Systems and State Development in Early Cambodia: Mapping the Engineered Landscapes of the Khmer Using Remote Sensing

University of Sydney Staff: Dr Damian Evans

Funding Bodies: Australian Research Council (Discovery Project)

Funding: AUD265,000

Partners: École Française d'Extrême Orient

Status: Funded 2008-2010

Summary: Recent archaeological research has fundamentally transformed our understanding of the great temple complex at Angkor, in Cambodia (802-1431 CE), by revealing an extensive urban landscape around the monuments, including a highly intricate system of water management. Compelling evidence exists that other temple complexes in Cambodia had similar urban landscapes, now largely hidden beneath forest and fields. New geospatial technologies will produce the first consistent, detailed and comparable maps of these sites. These new data will permit the first regional-scale, comparative analysis of Khmer settlements, redefining the nature of medieval Khmer urbanism and the role of hydraulic systems in the rise and fall of early urban centres.

Thresholds and hysteresis: how do abrupt changes in the Asian monsoon affect ecosystems and environmental processes?

University of Sydney Staff: Dr Daniel Penny (Geosciences)

Funding Bodies: Australian Research Council (Discovery Project)

Funding: AUD285,000

Partners: General Department of Nature Conservation and Protection, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Columbia University

Status: 2010-2012

Summary: The effect of predicted climatic change on livelihoods and regional stability in the developing world has become a first order strategic and security concern. Encouraging research into the impact of climate change within the Asia Pacific is of immediate strategic and economic interest to Australia. The proposed research will document the response of tropical ecosystems to past climate change in order to better understand the likely consequences of future climate fluctuations.

The Southern Asian - Mesoamerican Tropical Forest Urbanism Program (in collaboration with Dr Lisa Lucero of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagn)

University of Sydney Staff: Prof Roland Fletcher,

Funding Bodies: Worldwide Universities Network, University of Sydney IPDF, Amerind Foundation

Funding: circa AUD 40,000

Partners: École Française d'Extrême Orient, University of Illinois, Heritage Commission of Belize

Status: Funded 2008-2011

Summary: The program is developing a research collaboration between specialist in tropical forest urban societies in Southern Asia and Mesoamerica. In June 2009 a team of Mesoamericanists who specialisation is the Maya civilisation visited Angkor with a return visit to Mesoamerica by Prof Roland Fletcher and Dr Christophe Pottier in 2010. Currently the program is developing a series of conference sessions, specialist symposia and major conferences. One conference session has already been held at the SAA meetings in April 2010. Another session is scheduled for the SAA meeting in March 2011, followed by a scheduled Amerind Foundation symposium. In addition planning has commenced a joint conference on “Angkor and SE Asia” with NUS in July 2011 to be held in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Associated with the conference will be an international workshop on Tropical Forest Urbanism in the Old and the New World. A further international conference is planned for 2013 at Palenque in Mexico.

International Program for the Environmental History of Cambodian Society (IPEHCS): “The Environmental History of Cambodian Society - 10,000 BP to the Present Day”

University of Sydney Staff: Prof Roland Fletcher, Dr Dan Penny, Dr Martin King

Funding Bodies: University of Sydney IPDF, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - University of Sydney, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry - University of Sydney

Funding: AUD 14,000

Partners: Yale University, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), École Française d'Extrême Orient

Status: Funded 2007

Summary: An innovative combination of geosciences, archaeology and history to re-write the history of Cambodia and SE Asia. Relevant to the University because it will establish a major intercontinental, multidisciplinary research collaboration. The focus is on human successes and failures in the context of long-term environmental change - from the postglacial rise in sea-level through the development of agriculture to the Medieval Warm Phase and the rise and fall of states. A feasible program because of our inter-nationally recognised Cambodian inter-disciplinary expertise and research resources. A high impact, topical issue, studied in SE Asia, a region of key importance to Australia. Sustainable through our existing associations and a major 5-year research collaboration

The SE Asia - Mesoamerica Urban Heritage Collaboration

University of Sydney Staff: Prof Roland Fletcher

Funding Bodies: University of Sydney IPDF, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - University of Sydney, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry - University of Sydney

Funding: AUD 14,000

Partners: University of Illinois, State University of Pennsylvania, École Française d'Extrême Orient

Status: Funded 2009

Summary: Relevant to the University because it locates us as a world leader in the new global comparative approach to heritage and connects the University to two WUN universities in the USA which are leaders in Mesoamerican tropical forest archaeology. Our capacity as inter-nationally recognised researchers who focus on the archaeology of tropical forest urbanism in SE Asia is already applied to issues of heritage management. Sustainability derives from creating relations between heritage managers in Mesoamerica and SE Asia who would otherwise not meet. The impact will result from the intellectual innovation of promoting a global approach that combines research and heritage management. The project enables researchers from The University and from Cambodia to liaise on a visit to key heritage sites in Mesoamerica.

École Française d'Extrême Orient-University of Sydney Angkor Digital Archive Program

University of Sydney Staff: Prof Roland Fletcher, Prof Jeffrey Riegel, Prof Adrian Vickers

Funding Bodies: University of Sydney IPDF, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - University of Sydney, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry - University of Sydney

Funding: AUD 20,000

Partners: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), École Française d'Extrême Orient, Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap

Status: Funded 2009

Summary: Enhances a major, international research collaboration with the École Française d'Extrême Orient, applying our capacity as inter-nationally recognised Cambodian inter-disciplinary researchers and our specific IT expertise in designing the Angkor information system for UNESCO, as part of the "Living with Heritage" project. Sustainability will derive from showing - with École Française d'Extrême Orient’s immense data resources - the value for research and management of additional data content from other sources. Impact will result from implementing the first digital, locational index of data for a World Heritage site in the developing world in a major innovative combination of IT, archaeology, art, architecture and history.

In December 2009 as part of the 10th Anniversary Program a joint meeting of the research teams working on Angkorian inscriptions was convened in Siem Reap in collaboration with École Française d'Extrême Orient. From this meeting a program of digital database development and data preparation has been developed and implemented.

The establishment of an "Angkor Heritage Management Framework" for the World Heritage Site of Angkor

University of Sydney Staff: Prof Roland Fletcher, Dr Eleanor Bruce, Dr Daniel Penny, Dr Damian Evans

Funding Bodies: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Australian Government

Funding: AUD100,000 (estimate) for University of Sydney component.

Partners: Godden Mackay Logan Pty Ltd

Status: Tender submitted May 2010; awarded to GML August 2010

Summary: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) invited qualified companies to submit tenders for a USD1.3 million consultancy as below:

1. The Specialized Heritage Consultancy Firm needs to establish a Heritage Management Framework which manages the identified heritage values of the entire Angkor cultural landscape, for its long-term conservation and presentation, and the development of capacity within Autorité pour la Protection du Site et l’Aménagement de la Region d’Angkor (APSARA) for the implementation and review processes needed to:

- alleviate rural poverty,
- improve governance,
- increase ecological and environmental sustainability,
- advocate recognition and long-term conservation of cultural heritage assets and, stimulate economic development.

2. The consultancy firm and specifically its lead consultant should have particular expertise of at least 10 years in heritage management, in particular Cultural, Natural and Mixed World heritage sites. Experience in the Asia and South East Asia-Pacific region would be considered as an advantage as would be experience working with UN-Agencies and especially UNESCO and UNDP. In addition they will require access to skills that include:

- GIS and spatial analysis,
- Conservation and management of cultural and natural sites,
- Tourism management,
- Site interpretation.

The team formed by the consultancy firm shall include personnel with the relevant backgrounds in disciplines such as archaeology, architecture, urban planning, landscaping, water management, ecology, sociology and community consultation. Experience in the Asia and South East Asia-Pacific region would be considered as an advantage as would be experience working with UN-Agencies and especially UNESCO and UNDP.

Note: This consultancy derives from the work of the "Living with Heritage" Project and our collaboration with Godden Mackay Logan, the key industry partner in that Linkage grant project.