Unearthing the ancient secrets of Angkor in Cambodia

Archaeology & Culture

Unearthing the Ancient Secrets of Angkor in Cambodia

How did the people of the Khmer Empire manage a changing climate and what can their resilience teach us today?

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

This is the first study of its kind to examine daily life of the non-elite people who existed during the Angkorian and post-Angkorian periods.

The Angkorian Empire was home to the world’s largest pre-industrial city, but a series of droughts and monsoon-floods pushed the city’s intricate water management network beyond its limits. However, the region was never completely abandoned. How did this population survive in an area with such climatic challenges?


Overhead view of large excavation trench at Angkor Wat.

Cambodia sits in the Mekong Basin, an area that is already experiencing profound impacts from climate change such as drought, deforestation, and landscape disruption. Such environmentally unstable conditions were all too familiar to the people of Angkor, who found strategies to adjust and accommodate to environmental unpredictability for centuries.


Excavate for archaeological remains at Angkor Wat.

By studying the everyday lives of the non-elites, scientists will increase their scientific knowledge regarding these environmental changes and the strategies that individuals, households, and communities used to maintain their resiliency.

Scientists will also work with local Cambodian archaeologists from the APSARA Authority (the Cambodian management authority responsible for protecting the archaeological park of Angkor) and archaeology students from the Royal University of Fine Arts to help establish climatic and environmental processes and the adaptations that everyday people make in order to maintain their sustainability in times of crisis.

About the research area

Angkor Archaeological Park, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, Asia

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:

The Scientists


Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

ABOUT Miriam Stark

Project Co-Director Miriam Stark is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Miriam studies Southeast Asian archaeology with a focus on Cambodia’s Greater Angkor region.



Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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