The Apsara National Authority (ANA) is to request for government support in the second-phase restorations of Angkor Wat’s embankment steps after announcing the successful completion of the first phase.
The second phase will involve repairing and strengthening a further 60m of steps along the southern embankment of the Angkor Wat moat after 80m of it was successfully repaired.
ANA deputy director-general Kim Sothin said on January 30 that the authority was preparing a request for financial support to begin work on the restoration of the section to the south of the temporary floating bridge that was installed in 2017.
Sothin said the project may involve partially dismantling the stone and reinforcing it using traditional stonemasonry techniques dating from the Angkor era.
“Because the south side has collapsed so severely, some parts may need to be removed and repaired in the traditional way,” he said.
In the first phase, a team of experts consisting of civil engineers and architects attempted to disassemble the stone structure. But they found that, in an earlier French restoration, the stone was attached to steel that was mixed with cement, making it difficult to pry apart.
Though the first phase of restorations was deemed a success, with the structural integrity of the steps no longer considered a risk, Sothin said the complexity of work in the second phase means the ANA would not be able to conduct it alone. Site engineers would have to convene with international experts from the International Coordinating Committee for Angkor (ICC-Angkor) to make a decision on moving parts of the structure before proceeding.
The first phase of restorations, which commenced last September, saw parts of the stairs restored with reinforcements that were expected to last “several centuries”.
But Mao Sokny, a technical officer at the ANA’s Department of Conservation of Monuments in Angkor Park and Preventive Archaeology, warned that if there were no plans for future reinforcement, “the stairs in some parts will fall into large chunks, which is not easy to repair”.
The restoration project is divided into three major phases with a total length of 200m, in a process that is expected to take three years to complete.