Arts & Culture

800 AD - 1400

Visualising Angkor

3D Images and Animations selected from Monash University's Visualising Angkor Project 2007 - 2014
Monash University / 2014

The Environs of Angkor Wat

An impressionistic view over rice fields with Angkor Wat visible in the distance. Image created by Tom Chandler, Brent McKee & Michael Lim (Monash University) 

The visualisation on the right is one of a series that tests the density of settlement in the neighbourhood around Angkor Wat. The brighter orange hues designate raised ground on the banks of canals and trapaeng (ponds) and roads. These are patterned with clusters of trees and thatched Khmer houses on stilts.

Fields and settlement in the virtual model of Angkor Wat, viewed from north. Image created by Tom Chandler, Michael Lim, (Monash University) & Roland Fletcher, (University of Sydney)

This animated visualisation shows an elevated approach to Angkor Wat as viewed from the west. The fields, ponds and settlement visible in the image are based on the Greater Angkor Project archaeological map.

Animation of the environs of Angkor Wat 1200 - 1400. Image created by Tom Chandler and Michael Lim, Monash University 

An aerial visualisation circling around a model of Angkor Wat in the 13th century.The visualisation depicted here was completed in 2009. Recent archaeological research has revealed more definitive evidence about the settlement layout within the Angkor Wat enclosure. This information is currently being tested in a new 3D model of the complex.

Towns and Villages of Greater Angkor

Village life in medieval Angkor. Tom Chandler,  Brent McKee (Monash University) & Martin Polkinghorne (University of Sydney)

In this image, the triple towers of a walled and moated village temple can be discerned to the centre left of the image. A number of trapeang (ponds) extend to the east and just north of the temple, and a canal cuts diagonally across the upper right of the image.

A visualisation of the village of Hep Kha in the south of Angkor, based on archaeological surveys. Image created by Tom Chandler & Michael Lim, Monash University

An animated scene centred on a village shrine at Angkor. A Chinese vistor in the late 13th century named Zhou Daguan recounts seeing three religious doctrines at Angkor during his visit. Here a pair of Khmer Theravada monks can be seen passing a shrine to a Brahmanic deity on their way to a Buddhist pagoda.

An animated scene centred on a village shrine at Angkor. A Chinese vistor in the late 13th century named Zhou Daguan recounts seeing three religious doctrines at Angkor during his visit. Here a pair of Khmer Theravada monks can be seen passing a shrine to a Brahmanic deity on their way to a Buddhist pagoda.

A village shrine in vicinity of Greater Angkor. Image created by Tom Chandler, Brent McKee, Chandara Ung (Monash University) & Martin Polkinghorne (University of Sydney) 

An elephant hauls a block of sandstone towards a sculpture workshop near an urban centre. Fragments of sandstone chips, the waste of the carving process, can be seen scattered around the foreground of the image.

Stone sculpture workshop in the early Angkor Period. Tom Chandler and Brent McKee (Monash University), Martin Polkinghorne (Univeristy of Sydney)

This visualisation of settlement along the roads of Angkor Thom proposes a substantial number of shade, fruit and utilitarian trees planted around the houses.

Views over a green metropolis Tom Chandler and Michael Lim (Monash University) 

Roads and Canals of Angkor

A visualisation transect based upon the archaeological survey conducted by the French School of Asian Studies and The University of Sydney, running just below the West Baray towards the vicinity of Angkor Wat. At the base of the animation, an advancing vertical black line moving over a map corresponds to the field of view in the 3D landscape depicted above it.

Animated visualisation of archaeological mapping of Greater Angkor

An extensive network of canals are an important feature of infrastructure in Greater Angkor. As well as moving vast quantities of water around the capital, canals were essential for travel and transportation. Drawing upon historical photography and archaeological research, this scene imagines a view down an Angkorian canal lined with houses raised on bamboo stilts.

An animation of a man in a canoe making his way along an Angkorian canal.  Image created by Tom Chandler & Brent McKee (Monash University)

The location of this scene is unspecified, but it could be near the Royal Palace or Ta Prohm temple. 

As well as people, this animation features a range of animals at Angkor as featured on the bas-reliefs. The heavy and slow moving forms of elephants and water buffalo are immediately apparent, though there are also ox-carts idle by the road's edge and several wandering village dogs. 

Toward the end of the animation, a man can be seen conversing with a figure on crutches near a high laterite wall. 

Zhou Daguan noted that lepers were “everywhere on the roads” and local people “thought nothing of sleeping and eating in their company”.

An animated scene of people coming and going along a road in the capital.  Image created by Tom Chandler, Chandara Ung & Brent McKee (Monash University) 

Rice Fields of an Empire

A view placed among the rice paddies in the virtual model of Angkor.  Image created by Tom Chandler & Brent McKee (Monash University) 

Khmer military strength rested on local lords who had sworn an oath of allegiance to the king. In time of war captains of militia were expected to conscript peasants in their district and to lead them to Angkor to join the Khmer army. The weaponry and decorative patterning of the insignia and parasols in this scene are based on studies of the bas-reliefs of the Bayon and Banteay Chmar temples.

A provincial captain atop an elephant leads his retainers to the capital in the dry season.  Image created by Tom Chandler & Brent McKee (Monash University) 

The civilisation of Angkor dominated mainland South East Asia for over 500 years. It was an inland empire that derived its wealth from a vast network rice fields connected by a complex system of canals and reservoirs.

Animation of a rice field and village life at Angkor.  Image created by Tom Chandler & Brent McKee (Monash University) 

A City Fringed by Forests

Based on 19th century photos of forest roads in the Angkor archaeological park, this animation evokes the space, and sound, of a minor road through the forest on the outskirts of medieval Angkor.

Oxcarts making their way along a forest road.  Image created by Tom Chandler & Brent McKee (Monash University) 

Zhou Daguan recounts that he heard of two kinds of “savages” in Cambodia. The first kind, he says, “knew how to deal with people and talk to them” and were often sold into sold into towns as slaves. The second kind, feared for their ferocious nature and highly poisonous herbal concoctions, roamed from place to place in the mountains.

An animation of a nomadic family weaving their way through the jungle in the Cambodian mountains.  Image created by Tom Chandler & Brent McKee (Monash University) 
Credits: Exhibit

Curators — Tom Chandler, Martin Polkinghorne
Project Research & Direction  — Tom Chandler
Research Assistants (3D Modelling and Animation)  — Brent McKee, Michael Lim, Chandara Ung
Visualising Angkor Project Advisors — Roland Fletcher, Martin Polkinghorne

Credits: All media
The exhibit featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.