Humans Through Time and Space > Environment and Society

Dr Martin Polkinghorne

Lead Institution:
École française d'Extrême-Orient (Dr Brice Vincent)

Collaborating Institutions:
APSARA National Authority

Recent archaeological excavation in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor discovered the first historical period bronze workshop in Southeast Asia. Located next to the Royal Palace of Angkor Thom, the royal workshop was of considerable importance to the political elite who commissioned its products to furnish its palaces and temples with objects, and to legitimise its rule with images of the gods. The research program LANGAU, inspired by the Old Khmer word langau meaning "copper", will study copper-based metallurgy in Angkorian Cambodia. The program will focus on the period between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, when the Khmer kingdom, focused on its capital of Yashodharapura (modern Angkor), became a highly centralised state, increasing its political and cultural influence, and controlling the resources of its various territories extending far beyond the borders of contemporary Cambodia into Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Archaeometallurgical investigation of sites that produced sacred idols, ritual accoutrements, adornments for utilitarian objects, and temple decorations in copper and its alloys (bronze, brass) will appraise the Angkorian chaîne opératoire. To contextualise the research within studies of Angkorian and Southeast Asian economies and societies, the program considers pre-modern craft production, including the relationship between artisans, workshops and patrons, the sourcing and supply of raw materials, and the distribution of finished products.

Selected Publications:

Polkinghorne, M., Douglas, J. and Carò, F. 2015. Carving at the Capital: A stone workshop at Hariharalaya, Angkor. Bulletin de l'Ecole francaise d'Extreme-Orient, 101 pp. 55-90.

Polkinghorne, M., B. Vincent, N. Thomas and D. Bourgarit 2014 Casting for the King: the Royal Palace Bronze workshop of Angkor Thom. Bulletin l'École Française d'Extrême-Orient 100: 215–260.

Carò, F., M. Polkinghorne and J. Douglas 2014 Stone materials used for lintels and decorative elements of Khmer temples.  Metropolitan Museum Studies in Art, Science, and Technology 2:51–68.

Polkinghorne, M. 2008 Khmer decorative lintels and the allocation of artistic labour. Arts Asiatiques 63:21–35.

Polkinghorne, M. 2007 Artists and ateliers: Khmer decorative lintels of the ninth and tenth centuries. Udaya – The Journal of Khmer Studies 8:219–241.