An FCL seminar was given by Till F. Sonnemann, honorary research associate at at the University of Sydney’s Department of Archaeology. He currently works as a geophysicist for GBG Australia, a geotechnical company focusing on non-destructive subsurface investigations.
Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) at Angkor – the latest results
From the first pre-Angkorian settlements to Angkor’s decline after the 14th century, the archaeological landscape of Angkor took several hundreds of years to form. The transformation of the natural floodplain into a large water management system with its successive political centres acting as nodes in the network changed the original state of the landscape significantly. Today the landscape presents itself as a distribution of centres that were somehow connected by earthen channels and roads.
Within his PhD thesis, Till Sonnemann aimed to detect patterns of change in urban development within the region that became known as Angkor which had been ignored before. By using ground penetrating- and high resolution satellite radar data three dimensions of spatial configuration were investigated. From the largest scale, the original distribution of rivers before urbanization, to the water management system consisting of canals and large reservoirs that transformed the area to an urban landscape, down to the smallest scale such as understanding structural patterns within enclosures, the research focused on features that are buried under the ground and therefore were not directly visible to the eye.
Using Angkor as a sample case, the talk will display how newly applied techniques have changed our understanding of an archaeological site. The GPR surveys have provided evidence of inlets and outlets of the giant reservoirs, improving our knowledge on the functioning of the water management, and showing that these baray were indeed part of the Angkorian network. The discovery of a buried quincunx temple structure within the enclosure of Angkor Wat has given new insights to the construction history of the monument.