From Phnom Penh, the team travelled 46km north to the site of Longvek, which was briefly the royal capital in Post-Angkorian times, where they met with Dr. Martin Polkinghorne (University of Flinders) supervising an archaeological dig. Near Longvek, Dr. Polkinghorne and his team have discovered the location of an bronze forge, once used as part of a 16th century metal workshop. The SensiLab team was able to capture a 3D point cloud – or 3D model – of the forge as revealed by the excavation. This bronze forge was likely similar to the ones used at Angkor for the casting of statues and architectural fittings, and therefore makes an ideal study to support the virtual reconstruction of an Angkorian workshop featuring animated artisans engaged in bronze casting.
The team travelled to Siem Reap on the following day, a modern town just outside the ruins of Angkor. As well as returning to the primary research site of the famous Angkor Wat temple, the SensiLab team embarked on a number of destinations further afield, such as the well-preserved shrine of Prasat Trapeang Phong in the southern periphery of Angkor. This relatively minor temple provided an insight into how much of the populace of Angkor lived 1000 years ago in rice farming villages centred around a local shrine.
Field trips to temple complexes away from Siem Reap Province, such as Prasat Beng Mealea, Preah Vihear and Koh Ker, revealed not only the scale of the former empire, but the variety of architectural styles developed over more than five centuries of the Classic Angkor period. The temple complex of Beng Mealea, built in the same style as Angkor Wat, was remarkable in its contrasting state of almost complete ruin. Using published data from airborne archaeological surveys, the SensiLab team was able to cross-reference the grid layout and residential areas within Beng Mealea’s enclosure, measure areas of earthen mounds where houses would have been, and check the size of the residential water ponds against the width of roads and causeways. Not only will the data collected here will be used to simulate different levels of population density within Angkorian temple enclosures, but the Beng Melea temple complex would be a good candidate for a digital reconstruction project in the future.