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Temple Watch: The hole truth

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There has been controversy surrounding damage supposedly caused by the installation of the fixed lighting at Angkor Wat for the Angkor Light Show. I had no objections about the lighting, provided it was installed in a non-damaging way, and I visited Angkor on the weekend to see what visual impact the lighting had. I looked closely above the cornices opposite the bas-reliefs. The lights have recently been taken down, revealing regular oblong holes about 10 cm long above each pillar. Some holes had rough patches of concrete surrounding them. Tour guide Ta Elit said that many rectangular holes had been cut for support beams during French restorations last century. I looked at photos I had taken of these areas within the last five years, and I could see old areas of poor repairs above these cornices in some of my images. But no rectangular holes. It's possible the lighting contractors removed the rough cement repairs to expose the older holes when they installed the wood to attach the lights. I cannot say for certain whether any additional holes had been cut, but I can see how people could get the impression that serious damage had been done.

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