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Angkor Thom restoration complete

People work on a restoration project at Siem Reap’s Angkor Thom last week to repair damage from a 2011 typhoon.
People work on a restoration project at Siem Reap’s Angkor Thom last week to repair damage from a 2011 typhoon. Zoe Holman

Angkor Thom restoration complete

Major restoration works have been completed at the former seat of power of the Angkorian civilisation, Angkor Thom, following damage inflicted to the site by Typhoon Nesat in 2011.

Funded and implemented by the Apsara Authority, the project began last year to repair damage to the 12-kilometre outer wall of the enclosure that neighbours Angkor Wat and was the last and most enduring capital of the Khmer Empire.

“Angkor Thom was the centre of the Cambodian empire for 500 years, so restoring it was extremely significant,” said Long Kosal, an Apsara spokesman.

While Angkor Wat remained unscathed, Typhoon Nesat saw many parts of Angkor Thom submerged, bringing down the walls of the 12th-century site and threatening other structures. “The impact of the collapse was very strong, so it was urgent to repair the wall so that no further damage was caused,” Kosal said.

Despite last week’s completed restoration, conservation experts at Angkor Thom are continuing to conduct risk assessments to gauge the damage to the site that once housed the Royal Palace and renowned Bayon Temple.

Vanna Ly, director of the department of conservation of monuments in Angkor, who oversaw the project, said the restoration reflected a major accomplishment in terms of technical skill and research expertise.

“Conservation cannot be separated from archaeology,” he said, explaining that extensive investigation and planning were required to ensure the stone restoration conformed to Angkor Thom’s original design.

He also noted that many of the original construction methods used at Angkor Thom, including how workers lifted stones weighing up to 2.5 tonnes, remained a source of mystery to experts.

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