Martin Polkinghorne is a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at Flinders University.
Martin completed his PhD at The University of Sydney focussing on the people and technology that made the temples of Angkor. Between 2011 and 2014 he led an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery project on pre-modern craft economies in Cambodia. This initiative discovered the first historic bronze foundry known in Southeast Asia and continues to excavate at Angkor.
Martin is a Chief Investigator of the ARC funded Greater Angkor Project's Urbanism after Angkor (14th - 18th century CE): re-defining Collapse. The Greater Angkor Project is changing Cambodian history after the demise of Angkor, from depictions of defeat and loss toward recognition of adaptation and renewal. In a complementary research program, Martin led the ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) project New Light on Cambodia’s Dark Age: The capitals of Cambodia after Angkor (1350 – 1750).
Together these projects are conducting the first archaeological investigations of Cambodia's Early Modern Period capitals on the banks of the Mekong and Tonle Sap arterial rivers. Research of Cambodia during a time of quickening international trade retrieves this period from a perceived Dark Age, and reveals critical linkages between the celebrated Angkorian past and the present-day.
Martin is Director of the University of Sydney Angkor Research Facility in Siem Reap, an Honorary Research Fellow of the Asian Studies Program, The University of Sydney, and a Member of the Advisory Board of Friends of Khmer Culture Incorporated.
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Award: After Angkor: 14C chronologies from Longvek, the 16th and 17th century CE capital of Cambodia (AP11038).
Australian Research Council Discovery Project: Urbanism after Angkor (14th - 18th century CE): re-defining Collapse (DP170102574).
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellow - Long Term (L16507, Host: Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Award: Characterising an elemental fingerprint for 15th – 17th CE century kiln complexes in northern and central Thailand by neutron activation analysis (AP11925).
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Award: Sisatchanalai, Sukhothai and Maenam Noi: Characterisation and exchange of 15th – 17th CE century stoneware sherds from northern and central Thailand by Neutron Activation Analysis (10306).
Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award: New light on Cambodia’s Dark Age (DE150100756).
The Terrence and Lynette Fern Cité Internationale des Arts Residency Fellowship 2015.
Australian Research Council Discovery Grant: The Ateliers of Angkor (DP110101968).
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) / Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE) Research Award: A 14C chronology of sculpture production sites at Angkor, Cambodia (ALNGRA13009).
National Geographic Society/ Waitt Grants Program 2011.
Australian Government Endeavour Research Fellowship 2009.
The focus of Martin's early career research are the production systems of pre-modern Asia, specifically at Angkor. During his Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship (APD, DP110101968) he discovered and excavated the first bronze workshop known in historic Southeast Asia. Additionally, he excavated a centre of sandstone manufacturing to understand how the Angkorian temples and sculptures were made.
Martin held a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, New Light on Cambodia’s Dark Age: The capitals of Cambodia after Angkor (1350 – 1750) (DE150100756). While the decline of Angkor is among the most significant events in the history of Southeast Asia, there is little known about the settlements that followed. This project conducted archaeological investigations at Cambodia's Early Modern Capitals to retrieve the period from a perceived Dark Age, and reveal critical linkages between the celebrated Angkorian past and the present day. Research is responding to an urgent need to conduct excavation of sites at risk of urban and industrial development.
Recognising the emergence of new urban forms after the demise of Angkor challenges the global “Collapse of Civilisation” trope, and is the objective of the Australian Research Council Discovery Project Urbanism after Angkor (14th-18th century CE): re-defining Collapse (DP170102574, Admin Org: The University of Sydney). This project proposes that continuity, renewal, variety and adaptation are as apparent in Cambodia’s Early Modern Period as loss and failure. As a Chief Investigator, Martin and his collaborators continue long-standing multi-disciplinary investagations at Angkor and are conducting excavations at the Early Modern Period capitals on the banks of the Mekong and Tonle Sap arterial rivers.
Recent Conference papers
Polkinghorne, M., Sato, Y., Voeun, V. "Early Modern period Cambodia: interim results from archaeological investigations at Longvek, 16th - 17th centuries", The 3rd SEAMEO SPAFA International Conference on Southeast Asian Archaeology, 21st June 2019, Thailand.
Polkinghorne, M., Sato, Y., Voeun, V. "Reconfigured Kingdom: Early Modern Archaeologies at Longvek, Cambodia", 23rd - 28th September 2018. Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Conference, Vietnam.
Polkinghorne, M., Sato, Y., Leng, V. Reconsidering the "dark age": preliminary archaeological investigations at Cambodia's Early Modern period capitals. Decolonising Southeast Asia’s Past: Archaeology, History of Art, and National Boundaries, 13th - 14th September 2018, Thammasat University, Thailand.
Polkinghorne, M., Sugiyama, H., Sato, Y. 17th October, 2017. "Boeung Samrid: preliminary results from excavations at a 16th century royal bronze foundry in Cambodia". BUMA IX. The Ninth International Conference on the Beginings of the Use of Metals and Alloys, 16th - 19th October 2016, Korea.
Polkinghorne, M. 9th June, 2017. "Ayutthaya at Angkor: images of the Buddha, 15th to 18th centuries". The International Conference on Cooperation and Research in Mainland Southeast Asian Culture, 9th June 2017, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.
Recent Invited Papers
Polkinghorne, M. "Old narratives and new evidence: revisiting the end of Angkor". Keynote: National Student Archaeology Conference. 2nd October 2019. Flinders University, Adelaide.
Polkinghorne, M. "The end of Angkor and why it matters". Keynote: History Teachers' Association of Australia National Conference. Adelaide, 2nd October 2019. Loretto College, Adelaide.
Polkinghorne, M., Sato, Y. "Reconfigured Kingdom: The Archaeology of Longvek", 7th December 2018. Yosothor, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Polkinghorne, M. 19th May 2018. "Reconfiguring Kingdoms: The end of Angkor and the emergence of Early Modern period Cambodia", Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore.
Polkinghorne, M. 14th October, 2017. "Preliminary results from excavations at a 16th century royal bronze foundry in Cambodia". Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Nara, Japan.
Recent Media Coverage
Polkinghorne, M. "Angkor replicated: how Cambodian workshops produce fake masterpieces, and get away with it". The Conversation.
Lotha, L. "The little-known history of Cambodia’s ‘dark age’". Southeast Asia Globe.
Peddie, C. "Digging into Cambodia's bright past". The Advertiser.
Sassoon, A. "Team digs into Cambodia's 'dark ages". Phnom Penh Post.
Sullivan, N. "Unearthing Angkorian secrets from an ancient workshop". Phnom Penh Post.
“Massive Bronze Workshop Found near Angkor Thom”. Archaeology Magazine.
Crane, B. “Digging for where the gods were constructed” Phnom Penh Post.
Harmsen, P. “Lys I den morke tid (Light in the dark age). Weekendvisen. #4, p. 7.
Rollet, C. “Discoveries at former capital could change old perceptions”. Phnom Penh Post.
“Cambodia’s Other Great Capital”. Archaeology Magazine.
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