Archaeologists reproduce ancient statues for Angkor Wat
Four statues have been created using fragments of originals found at Cambodian temple complex
The giant temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia has long been a highlight of south east Asia travelling adventures.
But now, those visiting the temple will be able to catch sight of what are thought to be the first statues of their kind to be produced in around 800 years.
A team of researchers, archaeologists and craftsmen are working to produce four statues based on fragments of the originals found at the vast temple complex, reports the Phnom Penh Post.
Each statue measures around 30cm in height and will be placed on the roof top of Angkor Wat's East Gallery, home to the Sea of the Churning Milk - a bas relief of battling gods and demons symbolising immortality.
The intricately designed and carefully carved statues each feature an apsara - a traditional Khmer symbol - at the centre surrounded by a lotus.
“This would have been unthinkable 20 years ago," Lisa Ackerman, executive vice president of the World Monuments Fund, which oversaw the project, told the newspaper.
"To have this done 20 years ago would have risked accusations of trying to falsify what this was like all those centuries ago."
Using just 19 original fragments, scientists were able to determine that the original stone contained a high clay content and that grooves had been cut for drainage.
For the reproductions, fresh grey-blue sandstone was dug from nearby Bangmealea, a quarry similar to those used in Angkorian times.
British artist Sasha Constable, who has lived near Angkor Wat for a decade, was commissioned to oversee the design of the new statues.
As the fragments only came from the bottom half of the originals, she had to conduct a great deal of research to establish what the rest of the figures may have looked like, going through records and photographs of Angkor Wat compiled over several decades of restoration and conservation projects.
"Carving these sculptures meant I tried to imagine what it was like for the carvers of ancient Angkorian times. Every sculpture has its own individual life," she commented. "Hopefully, they will blend in to the original structure and complement their surroundings."