Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part XIV) – Excavation Survey of the Terrace on the West Embankment of the East Baray

Excavation of the Terrace on the West Embankment of the East Baray
The newly installed (left) and the existing (right) supports at hazardous spots inside the East Tower of the Central Complex

 Ta Nei Temple is located facing the East Baray, one of the huge reservoirs that used to supply water for the Angkor capital. The terrace at the eastern end of Ta Nei Temple was built on top of the West Embankment of the East Baray, being not only significant as the main entrance of the temple, but also connected to the other temples through the Embankment. However, due to the extremely poor condition of the terrace, its construction period and structural features have remained uncertain.

 The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has so far conducted excavation of the terrace in three periods: November 2017, March 2018, and August to October 2018, aiming to delineate the plan of the terrace and consider the intention of construction. These previous surveys revealed plans of the terrace, especially the structure of the west wing. In this term, four staff members were dispatched from November 5 to 30, 2023 to carry out archaeological and architectural studies to understand the northern and the southern sections of the terrace as well as the construction process, in cooperation with Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA).

 Although traces of the stone masonry structure at the northern and southern sections of the terrace were scarcely identified, the excavation provided some clues to enable estimation of the original construction process of the terrace based on stratigraphical analysis of the mound structure. Additionally, a structure made of stones and bricks, which appears to be the foundation of a wooden pillar, was discovered on the surface of the terrace. Those remains indicate that a wooden structure was presumably built on the terrace at a certain time of its history. A level directly below where many roof tile fragments were unearthed by this excavation is thought to be the ground surface at the time when the wooden structure was built on the terrace. The details of the structure of the terrace still have not been ascertained, requiring further investigation.

 In addition to the above-described investigation of the terrace, we conducted minor repair work on the East Gate that had been completed last year, and continued its documentation. Moreover, we installed additional supports at hazardous spots inside the East Tower of the Central Complex, and held on-site meetings to discuss future collaborative activities at the temple.

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