Soil anthropisation and inferred environmental changes at Angkor
Pierre Bâty (INRAP)
Paper short abstract:
This paper shows soils and environments changes under humans activities resulting from angkorian land settlement expansion
Paper long abstract:
Recent studies have demonstrated how the temples of Angkor formed the core of a vast and dispersed network of extensive infrastructures and settlement system where the population was engaged in urban and rural activities. Remote sensing and mapping works revealed the extent and association of settlements with ancient fields, confirming the territorial dimension of the urban expansion of Angkor and its potential fundamental role in its operation and its decline. Poorly documented in epigraphy, producing almost no perennial archaeological objects, the ancient land use of Angkor looked until recently like an unattainable objective. However, recent advances in geoarchaeology provide new data which may help to identify and refine our understanding of domestic and agricultural activities throughout the Angkor metropolitan area. This paper deals with geoarchaeological results gathered on fossilised archaeological sites around the Siem Reap airport in the framework of the rescue excavations conducted during last five years. During these excavations, several long stratigraphical sequences were observed and sampled for specific soil analysis such as micromorphology. They show that soils development and distribution were occurred according to domestic and agricultural activities which impact on pedological development. Most of the stratigraphical sequences studied have also shown that anthropised soils were usually layered by fine aeolian sandy sediments suggesting a significant degradation of soil surface and may be of the vegetal cover during Angkor Empire. It was eventually associated with the profound environmental changes in order to fit with angkorian land settlement expansion.
Geoarchaeology in Southeast Asia