Unearthing secrets of old Cambodia

Martin Polkinhorne Cambodia blog
Dr Martin Polkinghorne, right, with Secretary of State His Excellency Chuch Phoeurn and members of the Royal Government of Cambodia Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts at the signing of a memorandum of understanding in Phnom Penh to excavate historic sites.

Flinders has signed an agreement with the Cambodian Government to conduct the first excavations of ancient cities that flourished during the Age of Commerce.

Funded by the Australian Research Council, the collaborative project will conduct the first ever archaeological excavations of the sites of the early modern capital cities of Cambodia after Angkor and before Phnom Penh, dating between 1350 and 1850 CE.

Research fellow Dr Martin Polkinghorne, from Flinders’ Department of Archaeology, returns to Cambodia next week to start work on location. He recently represented Flinders at the signing of an historic Memorandum of Understanding between Flinders, the Royal Government of Cambodia (Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts) and Japan’s Nara Research Institute (Japan) to start work.

“This cleared the way for exclusive permission to conduct collaborative archaeology at the capital city sites in Cambodia,” says Dr Polkinghorne.

“This research will investigate international trade between Asia and Europe in the so-called Age of Commerce, which has implications for understanding present-day globalisation, sea-trade, and geopolitical claims in the South-China Sea.”

The research responds to a Cambodian goverment request to conduct archaeology and understand sites of national and international heritage genuinely under threat from the expansion of Phnom Penh, he says.

Dr Polkinghorne, an ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award Holder in Archaeology, previously led a multi-disciplinary ARC Discovery project on the pre-modern craft economies of Southeast Asia which included excavations at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed   Angkor sites – and discovered the first classic period bronze atalier known in the region.

He has taught and lectured widely on Asian civilisations and material culture.

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