Being one of the most monumental of the archaeological sites in the world, Ankgor Wat has obtained one of the greatest number of internationally sponsored programs, oriented to increase popularity and to spread knowledge of its millennial history.
The unquestionable value of the heritage, acquired across the centuries, brought to a positive development of its institualization. In the other hand several kind of economical exploitations have been perpetrated.
Tourism promotion can, in a cursory review, be interpreted as a double fold attempt to offer employment to the Park inhabitants aside from making lucrative business.
Nevertheless, the fact that that the Park area, once the heart of the Khmer empire, is nowadays is inhabited, is too often left in the shadow.
Ankgor Wat has been classified by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Reports on the monumental area underline the uniqueness of the original Khmer cultural heritage, including archaic cultural habits, still preserved by the local population, including utter respect to traditions of the ancestors.
Even though multiple programs contemplate the involvement of the local population in development of the site, the good early intentions have been withdrawn almost completely, as we were able to witness.
Nowadays the fate of the monumental complex relies on a very delicate and complex balance between preservation and intensive tourist exploitation.
New discoveries emerged recently, revealing new monumental traces inside the 400-square-kilometer territory of the Angkor Archaeological Park. A previously undocumented city, Mahendraparvata, has been recently found nearby Angkor by airborne laser scanning of the surrounding forest and of the holy mountain Phnom Kulen.
Researchrs dated Mahendraparvata approximately 1,200 years back.
Siem Reap, Cambodia 2012
All Photographs and text by Mstyslav Chernov