Data Acquisition Completed — And Then Some…
Following a spectacular run of clear blue skies we finished data acquisition on April 19, several weeks ahead of schedule, and even managed to acquire some additional areas at the last moment.
One of the areas that we’d hoped to be able to acquire was the Angkor-period East Road that connects Angkor and Beng Mealea to the Angkorian military-industrial complex of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay, and just before we demobilised we managed to fly over that corridor and connect our two blocks at Phnom Kulen and Preah Khan of Kompong Svay.
We also acquired some other bits and pieces that had come to us as special requests, including the site of Choeung Ek which is the focus of work by esteemed archaeologist Phon Kaseka from the Royal Academy, and also some areas requested by archaeology students at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh for their theses.
Flight operations are pretty complex and addition to the teams in the air and the logistical teams on the ground supporting the air crew, we also had to establish a country-wide network of benchmarks in advance of flight operations so we could have teams collecting GPS data for differential correction of the GPS data on the helicopter during postprocessing. All of our ground GPS teams were stationed no more than 25-30 km away from any given area of flight operations, which is necessary to achieve the few cm of accuracy we need for archaeological applications.
This usually required coordinating multiple ground teams to mobilise from place to place as the helicopter moved around and was the responsibility of our ground surveying contractors, local companies iLi Consulting Engineers and Aruna Technology.
Unfortunately, raising additional ground survey teams for ad hoc extra acquisition during Khmer New Year was impossible, so the inglorious end to a month-long acquisition for project leaders was a 14-hour stretch 4WD-ing, helping to establish a base station, and defending it from pigs in the village of Khvau, about half way along the East Road.
As you can see from the photos we’re getting a lot of technical and logistical support from partner institutions in the program like the University of Sydney and also the Archaeology and Development Foundation, who’ve played a crucial role in temporarily suppressing the annual burnoff in Phnom Kulen.
The data from the 1 km wide East Road corridor will also be of particular interest to another partner investigator, Mitch Hendrickson of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who’s spent many years examining the linkages between Angkor-period centres and also identified the particular function of the East Road as a conduit for iron, ceramics, and other materials between Angkor and production sites (furnaces, kilns, quarries, etc.) that are often right beside the road, and which we hope to uncover and map using lidar.
Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed on this page are those of the author and do not necessarily represent official positions of APSARA, the EFEO or the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.