Using Adaptive Capacity to Assess the Water Management System of Koh Ker, Cambodia

Author(s): Sarah Klassen; Terry Lustig; Damian Evans

Year: 2016


Further research to understand what makes agricultural and water management systems resilient is critical for the continued existence and growth of sustainable communities today, especially in urban contexts. Resiliency is a very useful concept for understanding how complex systems, but can be difficult to operationalize. In this paper, we argue that adaptive capacity can be used as a middle-range theory that allows archaeologists to engage in interdisciplinary discourses of system-level resilience. We argue that systems with strong adaptive capacity are more resilient, more likely to persist, and more likely to successfully and actively navigate transformation into new beneficial states. Here we present the results of an archaeological assessment of the adaptive capacity of the water management system of Koh Ker, Cambodia. Koh Ker was occupied as the capital of the Khmer civilization (~9th to 15th centuries CE) for forty years between 928–944 CE. We assess the adaptive capacity of the system in terms of its natural, physical, and human capital and highlight examples of redundancy, equitable entitlements, social learning, and innovation. Assessing the system based on these criteria allows us to build a narrative about the water management system at Koh Ker and assess its overall resiliency to change.

Cite this Record

Using Adaptive Capacity to Assess the Water Management System of Koh Ker, Cambodia. Sarah Klassen, Terry Lustig, Damian Evans. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403364)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;