Bringing medieval Angkor to life

Exploring the historical recreation of an ancient metropolis through virtual simulations

Since 2014, a SensiLab team has been researching and crafting a dynamic simulation that draws upon recent archaeological discoveries to visualise how the Angkor Wat complex might have operated almost a millennium ago. As well as creating a comprehensive virtual reconstruction the research allows an immersive analytic study of the complex, where the paths of thousands of animated ‘agents’ are tracked as they enter, exit and circulate within the temple enclosure.

The comprehensive virtual world draws upon data from a wide array of sources, from archaeological surveys through to historical accounts, photographic archives, textile studies and botanical references. The 3D models generated make up a library that can be used to visualise hypothetical reconstructions of the past that augment and illuminate information from historical texts and archaeological surveys.

Simulating 24 hours at Angkor Wat in the 12th Century
Visualising hypothetical reconstructions of the past
One aim of the project is an immersive analytic study of the complex interactions between different social groups
The entrance to Angkor Wat temple

Such visualisations establish an iterative dialogue between 3D animators, archaeologists, and historians to test how assumptions about Angkor can be made more precise. As new information is gathered, the project is refined to become increasingly more accurate.


Virtual Angkor website that offers teaching modules and VR materials that augment traditional teaching methods.

Winner of the American Historical Associations’ 2018 Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History

A two part curated exhibition on Google Arts & Culture; part one explores the city of Angkor, part two gives an overview of the work on the temple of Angkor Wat

Images from the research were displayed at the Asian Civilisations Museum Singapore in Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City, 8 April – 29 July 2018. The museum catalogue is available online.

A New Model of Angkor Wat: Simulated Reconstruction as a Methodology for Analysis and Public Engagement. T. Chandler, B. McKee, E. Wilson, M. Yeates & M. Polkinghorne. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, Volume 17, 2017 – Issue 2


Project members

Tom Chandler
Brent McKee
Chandara Ung
Elliott Wilson
Mike Yeates

Related Projects

Haptic armband

Programmable Matter


Revealing the brain in dementia

Media Futures


Improving access for the vision impaired



Preserving Indigenous culture

Virtual Heritage