The cooperation project for heritage conservation between the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) and the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) has a history of nearly 20 years since its beginning in 2001. Ta Nei Temple, a part of Angkor -UNESCO World Heritage Site -, has been the main site for various joint activities throughout this period. Soon after the general direction for the future conservation and sustainable development of the site was agreed between the two organizations, a basic plan was proposed to and approved by the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC-Angkor) in 2017.
While past conservation activities in Angkor mainly focused on the restoration of buildings which were collapsed, damaged, or deteriorated to recover their original appearance, a master plan based on the assessment of heritage value as well as the comprehensive strategies for preservation and development of the target site has rather remained elusive so far. Being aware of such a problem, the Conservation and Sustainable Development Plan of Ta Nei Temple holds the following three objectives as basic concepts: 1) to maintain the current atmosphere of the site in harmony with the natural settings, 2) to provide visitors better understanding of the initial composition and characteristics of the temple, and 3) to ensure that visitors enjoy their visit in a safe environment.
In the conservation and sustainable development project for Ta Nei, APSARA is the main implementing body, and TNRICP provides technical support regarding the documentation and investigations. Both parties closely discuss the restoration design and work plan, asking the ICC-Angkor and its Ad Hoc Experts Group for advice and recommendations. This project is expected to provide a pilot model to enable APSARA to plan and implement its own practices for monument conservation.
The main pillar of the project activities in the last year was the start of full-scale restoration of the East Gate of the Outermost Enclosure, the original main entrance to Ta Nei Temple. This is the first case in which APSARA is responsible for carrying out a full-scale restoration, and every detail of the restoration work must be recorded regarding the different study processes and work procedures to obtain valuable references for future work. TNRICP provides effective technical support based on the knowledge of architectural restoration that has been accumulated in Japan. In 2019, works continued from the previous year included documentation of the existing condition, archaeological investigations, collection and sorting of scattered stone pieces inside and around the Gate, etc. And then, dismantling of the roof and wall structures was completed safely and mostly on schedule. We introduce here some of the project results, and hope that you can enjoy the world of the built heritage conservation.
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties