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Angkor Wat moat under restoration

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The northern section of Angkor Wat’s moat undergoing repair and preservation work on March 1. Apsara National Authority

Angkor Wat moat under restoration

The Apsara National Authority (ANA) will continue to repair the northern section of Angkor Wat’s moat, with the project expected to be finished in two years. The latest restoration work came after experts completed archaeological research and completed repairs to other areas of the pond’s shore.

According to ANA’s Facebook page, experts had repaired 56m of the moat’s northern shore. They also pumped 60,000m3 of water into the moat to make it more attractive.

The ANA confirmed that even though some parts have already been repaired, it has used black nets to prevent tourists from taking pictures because work is still in progress.

“In 2021, the ANA still needs to strengthen the stairs of the other three sides of the site and excavate the actual damage. The project also needs to raise and repair 65m of the shore in two years,” the ANA confirmed.

Srun Tech, an ANA archaeologist and director of the moat’s rehabilitation project, said research began in 2018, but repairs started in 2020.

“The Covid-19 outbreak has also prevented visitors to the park. However, this provides an opportunity for research specialists and restorers to work more easily,” he said.

Tech explained the preservation of ancient structures. The technical team cannot be defined as builders. It takes a long time to maintain the original form of the pond and ancient structures. He said the working group cannot work too quickly, regardless of research, traditional techniques, ancient engineering or the use of raw materials.

“Before we start work on a place, we excavate the land to know its original condition. The area is studied and comprehensive details are recorded then a plan is made to decide how should we restore the original structure, which is important for conservation,” he said.

The moat has a history of being renovated. In 1922, Henry Maxzal’s expertise restored the northern part of the moat to become its shape today.

According to the ANA, the structure of the moat is currently in a state of decay due to the sandstone reacting strongly with the sun and water, causing the sandstone to erode and break easily.

Some parts of the moat have lost sandstone, which causes holes to form and allows water with soil to flow into the moat. The ANA working group needs to study how to fill the gaps to prevent the water and soil entering.

In 2019, ANA decided to drain the water in the northern section of the pond for archaeological excavation as well as restoration. For 800 years, soil levels have increased from 60cm to 3m, which requires removal of soil.

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