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German project marks 25 years at Angkor Wat

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A Cambodian woman wearing a traditional outfit poses for a photo at Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat on December 4. Heng Chivoan

German project marks 25 years at Angkor Wat

The German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) will commemorate the 25th anniversary of its official engagement in Cambodia. The project is dedicated to the conservation of Khmer monuments in Angkor and beyond.

On December 14, a reception hosted by German ambassador Stefan Messerer will be held to celebrate the occasion. Those in attendance will include Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona, UNESCO representative to Cambodia Sardar Umar Alam, vice-president of Cologne University of Applied Sciences (TH Koeln) Sylvia Heuchemer and head of the German Federal Foreign Office’s Department of Culture and Society Ralf Beste.

Under the umbrella of UNESCO, around 15 countries are active in different international projects aimed at safeguarding Angkor, said a December 13 GACP press release.

The German project has made solid contributions to the conservation of decorated surfaces made of stone, stucco, and brick as well as of wall paintings in the temples of Angkor – and other sites in Cambodia – for the past 25 years.

GACP is funded by the Cultural Preservation Programme of the German Federal Foreign Office and TH Koeln.

“In the GACP’s work for the safeguarding of the important world cultural heritage sites in Cambodia, sustainability is the main concern. This aim is ensured by careful scientific preparation of the conservation interventions and even more by the diligent training of Khmer conservators in the different conservation techniques,” said the release.

“Today, the Cambodian GACP conservator team is well known for its excellent skills and practical performance,” it added.

Since 1997, GACP scientists have carried out comprehensive research on Angkor temples and their building and decoration materials – sandstone, brick, and stucco. Material properties, weathering influences and processes, deterioration patterns, conservation concepts, and methodology were investigated and documented in detail.

The GACP Khmer conservator team received training in a modern conservation approach to sandstone objects and stucco decoration, the press release noted.

It is this skilled Khmer team who does an excellent job conserving the precious decorations throughout the year.

“We are proud of 25 years of successful engagement in conservation in one of the most iconic cultural heritage sites in the world and want to express our sincere thanks to the German Government for the long-term funding, to all our colleagues among the Cambodian authorities and international projects, as well as to UNESCO for their excellent cooperation. Last but not least, we want to thank our highly skilled Khmer team for their excellent work and long years of commitment to the common aims of the project,” said TH Koeln professors Hans Leisen and Esther von Plehwe-Leisen.


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