Saving the Past
Cambodia’s ceramics hold the key to a deeper understanding of its past. Ranging from prehistoric days until the 15th century, these are an important element of Khmer culture. Excavations by a Cambodian team, under the leadership of Dr. Christophe Pottier of the École française d’Extrême-Orient, unearthed a trove of ceramic sherds at Prei Kmeng. To unlock their historical evidence it was necessary to assemble the multiple fragments and reconstruct the pots. FOKCI supported this work, which was undertaken by a team of Cambodian ceramics conservators from the Ceramics Conservation Lab who were led and trained by Bonnie Baskin, an expert ceramics conservator who is based in Berkeley, California.
The conservation permitted a new interpretation of the dating of early Khmer settlements. Its success led to a new request for FOKCI support to restore another group of ceramics discovered in the ground of the West Baray at Koh Ta Meas. The team began the first of two stages of this project in June 2006. The work is very challenging, as many of the pieces are extremely small. A vital component of the project is training a cadre of Cambodian ceramics conservators in this painstaking and very important work.