A historiography of Angkor’s river network: shifting the research paradigm to Westerdahl’s Maritime Cultural Landscape

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This article is an overview of the work that has been conducted so far on river usage and nautical technology in the history of Angkor, and a discussion on how maritime approaches can contribute to the creation of new knowledge by opening new lines of research that can help us reconstruct a more nuanced view of Angkor’s fluvial history. Although Angkor’s connection to the river network was made in the early 20th century, the compartmentalized studies that have been carried out so far on the subject of Angkor’s relationship to its watery environment have resulted in interpretations that do not reflect the complexity of the subject. It will be argued here that archaeologists who do not integrate maritime approaches in studies of cultures like SPAFA Journal Vol 3 (2019) A historiography of Angkor’s river network Angkor, where waterways play an important role in their environment, are likely to miss important aspects of fluvial cultures. By applying concepts such as the Maritime Cultural Landscape, it will be possible to push beyond the boundaries of terrestrial approaches and discover how the environmental conditions of cultures like Angkor–
with river networks as the main means of communication – resulted in the
development of specific cognitive and functional traits that gave form to fluvial
cultural landscapes. An example of such an approach is offered as a conclusion in an analysis of masonry bridges in Angkor’s transport network.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSPAFA Journal
Issue number2019
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • Angkor
  • maritime archaeology
  • Maritime Cultural landscape

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