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Farewell to an Angkor institution

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Christophe Pottier, departing head of the EFEO.

ANGKOR archaeological mainstay Christophe Pottier will leave the Ecole Francais d’Extreme Orient (EFEO) on January 15 after serving as the Asian studies school’s director since 1999. Pottier was involved in opening the centre in Siem Reap in 1992.

The Frenchman will head to Australia to spend a year or two doing research at the University of Sydney’s Cambodia research cluster.

He will remain co-director of the Greater Angkor Project, a joint effort between the EFEO, the University of Sydney and the Apsara Authority.

“I’ll still be in Angkor quite often and be very involved with Angkor studies,” Pottier said.

He arrived in Siem Reap in 1992 with his wife and a 50-kilogram box of belongings on a one-year contract .

“It’s quite funny to be leaving 18 years later,” he said.

So does he feel any sadness on vacating his adopted homeland after so many years?

“I am a stupid, French, archaeologist guy, so I’m not so much into emotions,” he said, cracking a smile.

Pottier restored the Terrace of Leprous King and the northern staircase of the Terrace of the Elephants at Angkor Thom the 1990s. He was also instrumental in discovering the actual enormous size of the ancient Angkor capital, through the use of aerial mapping and spatial analysis. The study of the size and organisation of the Angkor territory was his PhD subject.

Pascal Royere will take over at the EFEO. Royere started work with the EFEO in 1993 and has been supervising the Baphuon temple restoration program since 1995.

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