Dr Tom Chandler
Reviving the Lost Libraries of Angkor: Rendering Medieval Epigraphy in a Virtual World
Although the Khmer civilization has left many enduring architectural and sculptural masterpieces, its once vast body of literature was preserved on the perishable sheaves of the fan-palm leaf (Borassus flabellifer). These palm leaf manuscripts were recopied by scribes regularly, but by the beginning of the seventeenth century, not long after the abandonment of Angkor, the activities of the scribes ceased and these ‘libraries’ were lost to history. Fortunately, not all the texts have
vanished. Almost 1,300 Sanskrit and ancient Khmer inscriptions in stone have been found in the lands of the Khmer Empire and they attest to the existence of every type of ancient literature - scientific, educational, historical, epic and religious. In the absence of more explicit documents, these texts
provide valuable historical and sociological material and offer glimpses of political, economic and social life. This project proposes to contextualise the written records of medieval Angkor within a comprehensive virtual model of the city.