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Angkor: Radical Perspectives

Anthropology Occasional Seminar: A Talk by Professor Roland Fletcher from the University of Sydney
Co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
2:00 – 3:30 pm
Saunders Hall 346

Archaeologists have grown increasingly interested in the growth and demise of tropical urbanism in agrarian-based societies like those of 9-15th century Southeast Asia. Research by the Greater Angkor Project has demonstrated that the landscape of Angkor was profoundly re-engineered. Angkorian temples were surrounded by suburbs and integrated by a road and canal network which serviced the rice fields and managed flooding within a 1000km2 low-density urban complex, containing as many as 750,000 people at its peak in the 12th century CE. Among the notable changes to our understanding of Angkor are: a new model of the entire landscape, the pre- Angkorian urban landscape, the spatial layout of central Angkor, the transformed scale and organization of Angkor Wat, a new perspective on the 13th century iconoclasm, and the impact of climatic instability in the 14th and 15th century on the demise of Angkor. This lecture redefines the history of Angkor as a giant low-density city, and reviews its global significance in relation to urban processes in the Maya lowlands and in Sri Lanka.

Speaker Bio

Roland Fletcher is Professor of Theoretical and World Archaeology at the University of Sydney. After earning his PhD at Cambridge University (1975), he joined the University of Sydney in 1976 and has since implemented a global, multi-scalar and interdisciplinary approach to Archaeology. His publications focus on the limits and structure of urban settlement in the archaeological past and on the relationship between materiality and sociality. Professor Fletcher has worked in and around Angkor (Cambodia) since 2000, and currently directs the Greater Angkor Project in collaboration with the French agency EFEO and with APSARA Authority and the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

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