Tools of the Trade
figureposted on 06.10.2021, 16:23 by Kendall Hills
Archaeology often conjures images of excavation trenches, trowels and brushes, and the collection of small artifacts. The methods that accompany these images are destructive in nature as archaeological sites are “dug up”, while artifacts are carefully documented but essentially removed from their original context. The archaeology of monumentality, however, often requires different strategies that are non-destructive to preserve the integrity of monumental architecture. In my study of sandstone temples from the Khmer Empire (9th – 15th c. CE), my research approach requires an array of non-invasive methods to investigate provincial temple production choices through an evaluation of their sandstone construction materials. My archaeological tool kit ranges from stereo cameras with laser range finders to calculate the volume of temple construction materials, to the mundane notebook and pen used to record the dimensions of individual sandstone blocks. Such methods allow me to engage and document Cambodian cultural heritage with minimal disruption to the temple site (and its surprising inhabitants) while maintaining the conservation of the monument. Through the non-destructive collection of this data I can begin to reconstruct the economics of sandstone temple production, which is critical to understanding the broader ancient economy of the Khmer Empire.