ProjecT Excavating Ancient Households
P'teah or ផ្ទះ is the Khmer word for house. We call our project P'teah Cambodia because we investigate ancient residential spaces from the Pre-Angkorian (6-8th centuries), Angkorian (8-15th centuries CE), and Post-Angkorian (15-17th centuries CE) periods.
Angkor is one of the largest preindustrial settlements in the world and has been the focus of substantial scholarly attention. Despite more than a century of epigraphic, art historical, and architectural research, however, we still know little about the people of Angkor: who built the temples, kept the shrines running, produced food, managed the water, and farmed the crops that supported the empire. Studying past households and their activities is important for understanding daily practices of people in the past. Our project explores the roles of households and non-elites in the Cambodian past.
Our current fieldwork takes place around Prasat Basaet, near the city of Battambang in northwest Cambodia. Most recent archaeological attention since 1995 has focused on the structure and function of the Angkorian capital (or Greater Angkor), where our project worked from 2010-2015. Greater Angkor, however, was connected to and dependent upon large provincial centers, whose administrators channeled goods and labor to the capital. Battambang was one of the most arable regions of the Angkorian polity, and has a deep record of archaeological occupation that extends into the early Holocene and perhaps before. Our work examines how provincial populations became enmeshed in the Angkorian state. Did Angkorian power in the provinces wax and wane with different rulers? What was the economic relationship between the provincial areas and the Angkorian capital? How did people in the provinces interact with their environment and deal with the climatic changes that facilitated the rise and demise of Angkor? Such information is essential to building a comprehensive history of Angkorian Cambodia.
Above: Miriam Stark (left), Alison Carter (center), and His Excellency Prak Sonnara (right) from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. Photo by Hoem Sela.
Who We Are
Miriam Stark has worked in Cambodia since 1995, first as co-director of the Lower Mekong Archaeological Project (LOMAP) and more recently with the Greater Angkor Project. She is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii.
Alison Carter began working with Dr. Stark and the LOMAP project in 2005 and with the Greater Angkor Project in 2011. In 2015, she co-directed an excavation of a house mound within the Angkor Wat temple enclosure. She is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oregon.