What Was Angkorian Theravada? New Analyses and Findings from "Buddhist Terraces" and Other Monastic Structures at Angkor Thom, Cambodia
Author(s): Andrew Harris
This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
The Khmer Empire (c. 802-1431 CE) is believed to have undergone a dramatic religious transition during the 14th century from syncretic Brahmano-Buddhist worship to what is defined currently as "Theravada Buddhism". While demarcated in previous scholarship by a cessation of monumental temple-building central to previous traditions, the establishment and practice of "Theravada" in Cambodia has only recently been analyzed beyond a framework of culture-history and art-historical iconography. Recent fieldwork undertaken within and immediately surrounding the Khmer capital of Angkor Thom has revealed a vast Theravada Buddhist urban landscape consisting of the remains of more than seventy monastic substructures known in early scholarship "Buddhist Terraces". Through their survey, mapping, clearance, and photogrammetric imaging, unique structural typologies, patterns of placement, and the reuse of pre-existing ritual space and urban infrastructure at Angkor Thom have emerged. Architectural morphologies and visible renovations, too, reveal that "place-making" at Angkor appears to have transcended religious affiliation, which helps to explain the uniqueness of the Theravada remains at Angkor compared to other Southeast Asian contexts. This study thus applies an anthropological framework to understanding how religious practitioners and builders viewed, augmented, and appropriated the ritual spaces of their ancestors, stressing the imperfect nature of localized religious practice.
Cite this Record
What Was Angkorian Theravada? New Analyses and Findings from "Buddhist Terraces" and Other Monastic Structures at Angkor Thom, Cambodia. Andrew Harris. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449266)
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min long: 92.549; min lat: -11.351 ; max long: 141.328; max lat: 27.372 ;
Abstract Id(s): 23195