An Immersive map of Greater Angkor

Modelling a Medieval Metropolis

This project focuses on drafting a virtual map of Greater Angkor. Bringing together physical and cultural data, the map is a multi-layered visualisation that assimilates two forms of records within a virtual space.

The result is an interactive, navigable virtual map which extends over almost 1500 km2. It is a multilayered visualization, incorporating LiDAR data, digital elevation (DEM) files, and GIS mapping layers. We effectively “peeled off” layers from this geospatial archive of cultural and natural features in the Angkor area—ponds, canals, occupation mounds, temple sites, and rice fields—and translated them into bitmaps, with each map informing the distribution of 3-Dmodels above it.

The primary data source for our virtual map of Angkor was a geospatial repository maintained by the University of Sydney and the EFEO. This is a comprehensive resource, resolving features from the landscape scale down to the level of individual households and artifacts in the archaeological record, and aggregating a century and a half of historic maps and the results of various archaeological survey and mapping campaigns since the 1990s.

In order to integrate text layers with the virtual map, we imported annotations from the archaeological site registry of Angkor, which reveal detailed notes on both well-known and more obscure archaeological features scattered across the landscape of Greater Angkor. Most importantly, we have attempted to contextualize the written records of medieval Angkor—the “voice” of the Angkorians themselves—within the virtual model of the city by overlaying translated excerpts from the corpus of Khmer epigraphy, with each text corresponding to the cartographical location where the inscription was originally uncovered. This virtual map assimilates two forms of records within a virtual space; the body of physical (not written) evidence about the past in the archaeological record, and the epigraphic inscriptions that tell the story of Angkor’s political, religious, and cultural development.

Development Team – Tom Chandler, Mike Yeates, Chandara Ung, Michael Neylan, Su-Yiin Lai, Anita Lin, Sara Teh, Chulsa Heng


Collaborations Damian Evans, École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO); Scott Hawken, UNSW Built Environment; Eileen Lustig, Independent Researcher