The Angkorian Palimpsest: The Daily Life of Villagers Living on a World Heritage Site

Part of the Transcultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context book series (TRANSCULT)


Nowadays, traditional Khmer farmers are living on the framework of the ancient capital cities of Angkor, which is also visited by nearly two million tourists a year. They are torn between the aspiration of profiting from the country as it opens to the market economy and to mass tourism, and the restrictions of living in a place that is stagnating into a museum representation. With international heritage developers advocating the re-creation of an ancient idealized space, the solutions offered to the new generation are to either leave the site or to become part of its folklore. In this paper the approach these inhabitants chose when settling in this area whilst developing it within the framework of their living culture shall be taken into consideration. Angkor is not stuck in the past: These populations lay new layers on the partly erased ancient structure. Ancient developments, far from being simply archaeological remains to be preserved, are used on a daily basis in residential, farming, and religious activities. Angkor is not just an archaeological site, it is also a living territory.


Palimpsest Living heritage Archaeological site Angkor World Heritage 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Phnom PenhCambodia

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