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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Solar-powered glazing study produces partly cloudy results

Solar-powered glazing study produces partly cloudy results

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081218_08_2.jpg

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Jordan uses this device, made from mirors, to glaze ceramics.

ENGLISH expat Christopher Jordan perplexed ceramic experts at the National Centre for Khmer Ceramics Revival in Siem Reap last Friday when he attempted to demonstrate what he says is an ancient technique for glazing pottery using mirrors and sunlight. 

But even he admits his demonstration was far from perfect and failed to fully prove his theory ... for now.

Jordan built a solar panel device in an attempt to explain how the ancient Khmer coated large statues in glass and glazing.  He cited the example of the three-meter-high statue of Shiva from 870 AD in the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

"There's really no way to create ceramics like the Shiva statue without this technology.  No one has come up with a better solution," he said.

Jordan found his solution on the walls of a sanctuary in Egypt and now says the ancient Khmer similarly directed sunlight at several mirrors and used these mirrors as pens to "write" on the pottery

"People were sceptical about whether you could melt ceramics with mirrors," said Jordan.

After Friday's demonstration, people are still sceptical. 

On Friday, Jordan told the Post that his device reached 1,000 degrees Celsius in under a minute but needed to be 30 percent hotter to perform effectively.  Instead, the mirrored sunlight created only a few splotches of glass on the pots.

Despite the fairly sunny afternoon, Jordan claimed that "the sun wasn't hot enough". 

The centre's director, Serge Rega, said Jordan's approach was interesting but needed more research to develop the technology. 

"He only made a few glazes with solar power," said Rega.  "But this could be the beginning of something." 

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