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Survey and conservation of the Western Prasat Top Site

Survey and conservation of the Western Prasat Top Site

Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties

Cambodia

The Western Prasat Top Site

2011-Ongoing Fundamental Research,Conservation and Restoration,Human Resource Development
01/04/2014
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BACKGROUND

Cultural cooperation in Cambodia

Background to the project: In Cambodia, the end of the civil war in 1992 prompted efforts for reconstruction of the country, and conservation and restoration of the Angkor monuments became a matter of urgent concern. The monuments were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992 and simultaneously on the World Heritage in Danger List. In 1993, projects for conservation and restoration of the Angkor monuments were launched by various countries with the cooperation of the international community. Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties also launched a joint research project for human resource development in 1993 under commission from the Agency for Cultural Affairs. It has continued the project as an independently-implemented international cooperation project after becoming an independent administrative institution, and expanded the scope of the project to include survey and restoration activities.

Overview of the monument: The Angkor monuments are situated in the northwestern part of Cambodia, and are mostly famous for the Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, which occupy the center of the entire site. The project initially began as a survey of Banteay Kdei, but expanded to include the survey and conservation of the Tani Kilns and eventually the Western Prasat Top Site inside Angkor Thom in 2001. An inscription dating from the end of the 9th century was discovered at Western Prasat Top, but detailed surveys indicate that the site took on its present appearance during the 14th to 15th centuries. In the third medium-term plan, which was launched in 2011, dismantlement and restoration of the southern sanctuary was begun, and the lower base is now being dismantled.

Condition before the survey of the Western Prasat Top Site

ACTIVITIES

Survey and restoration of the Western Prasat Top Site

Background to the project: In May 2008, during the two-phase ten-year survey of the Western Prasat Top Site that began in 2001, some 40 stone elements fell from the top of the central sanctuary. As this caused the entire sanctuary to become unstable, temporary supports were applied in December using scaffolding materials. Leaving the sanctuary in this state for a prolonged period of time was not considered favorable neither in terms of conservation nor aesthetics, so it was decided to be dismantled and restored upon consultation with APSARA (Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap), the local organization for protection of cultural properties.

Project planning and cooperating parties: Arrangements with research institutes and other relevant parties were completed by 2010, and dismantlement and restoration work was begun in fiscal 2011. Based on the awareness that dismantlement would reveal many facts, it was agreed that thorough examination would be conducted accompanying the dismantlement, based on the awareness that many facts would be revealed in the process, and the project was named “Survey and restoration of the Western Prasat Top Site.” The project is being implemented with the cooperation of Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties; the Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research; Asahi Shimbun Company; Tadano Ltd.; and Mr. Shoji Sano, who possesses considerable experience in the restoration of stone monuments.

Dismantlement and restoration of the Western Prasat Top Site 1

Temporary supports and the Southern Sanctuary before dismantlement

RESULTS

Future plans for the survey and restoration of the Western Prasat Top Site

The dismantlement and restoration of the southern sanctuary and northern sanctuary is planned to be completed during the five years from 2011 to 2015 that are covered by the third medium-term plan, and the dismantlement and restoration of the central sanctuary is planned to be completed during the five years from 2016 to 2020 that are covered by the fourth medium-term plan.
With many foreign survey teams having accumulated experience and achievements at various archaeological sites to date, various survey and restoration methods that ought to be considered standard practices have been established. These standards will be further universalized and employed in the restoration of Western Prasat Top, and project organization and implementation knowhow will be accumulated to ensure sustainable survey and restoration in the future, as well as to contribute to sustainable restoration of the site by Cambodian staffs.

Excavation of the Southern Sanctuary

Dismantlement and restoration of the Western Prasat Top Site 2

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