Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Book a night with Bruguier

This Thursday (29th January) at 6.30pm, I urge you to get along to a talk by Bruno Bruguier (above) called The Archaeological Sites of Southern Cambodia and which will be held at the cinema of the French Cultural Center on Street 218 - but please note, the talk will be in French and Khmer. Bruno is the man behind the excellent Carte Archéologique du Cambodge maps and after meeting Bruno a couple of months ago, I'm convinced his talk will be as enthusiastic and lively as the man himself. His presentation will be to introduce a new book he is publishing about the ancient archaeological sites in the southern half of the country. There is a downside, the book is only in French, as is the talk which will also be in Khmer for the benefit of locals, though Bruno would be happy to hear from anyone with the means to publish his book in English.
Bruno began his amazing project to map and record all of Cambodia's archaeological sites, before, during and after the Angkorean period, in 1990 and is still going. Funds have dried up to expand the database as Bruno would like, so he's also open to offers for funding to continue this invaluable work. He's registered over 4,000 sites, has another 1,000 that need to be finalized before they can be added to the maps and database and he knows there are still areas like the Cardamoms and Svay Rieng that have yet to be properly explored and documented. He hasn't done it alone of course, a small team has worked with him over the years to locate the main sites and then to widen the search on the ground with the help of local villagers. The maps themselves are a collaboration between EFEO (The French Institue of Oriental Studies) for whom Bruno works, when he's not teaching Khmer history at the Sorbonne in Paris, and the Ministry of Culture & Fine Arts. The maps have been published in both French and Khmer and are for sale at the National Museum and the French Cultural Center for $3 each. A corresponding interactive website, Carte Interactive des Sites Archéologiques Khmers (CISARK) with photos and additional information can be found here and though its mostly in French, Bruno is already expanding the languages to include English, Khmer and Japanese. As an additional off-shoot of the project, Bruno and his wife have written six manuscripts of the major temples and archeological sites around Cambodia, on a regional basis. The first of those manuscripts, Southern Cambodia, has now been published by Reyum with many photographs and maps and will be available on Thursday for the first time.

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