Temple Savior, “Tempelretter” , Cambodia

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Project Location

Angkor Park, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Project Duration and Start

3 Years, 2011-2013

Project Sponsor(s)

Thomas Cook

Project Description

Hidden treasures from our past cultures still exist. One of these treasures has been discovered by the Cologne Institute for Conservation Sciences in Cambodia. The Institute now cares for the preservation of endangered dramatic reliefs and inscriptions of the "Prasat Kravan" temple in the Angkor area of ​​Cambodia. Utilizing specific conservation measures, the scientists aim to stop decay at the temple, preserving irreplaceable cultural assets and their content for the enjoyment of future generations. The specially-designed “Temple Savior” program is intended to serve as a standardized program for historic preservation methods. The Prasat Kravan temple is part of the cultural world heritage site "Angkor Park," where Khmer god-kings of from the 9th-13th centuries built a large number of temples. The provincial capital of Siem Reap is the starting point for visitors, and local accommodation ranges from "low budget" travelers to luxury hotels. In 2011 an excess of 3 million visitors to the Angkor Park region are anticipated.

When Prof. Dr. Hans Leisen (Cologne University, Institute for Conservation Science, CICS) first visited Angkor to investigate the Prasat Kravan temple in 1995, he discovered that many temple decorations were at risk, and the base-relief sandstone was particularly vulnerable. Further investigations showed that a large number of reliefs were threatened by decay, mainly through an almost insidious form of damage to the shell formations. Damage found within the deeper layers of the structure (approximately 5 cm), rather than on surface of the reliefs, is much harder to recognize or if it is found it is often too late for restoration. Subsequently the German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) was founded, supported by the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany and the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne. The GACP is the only project in Angkor with the goal of conserving and preserving temple decorations and is frequently requested to support other projects within the area.

The goal of the project "Temple Savior" is the conservation of the decorations at the Prasat Kravan temple. A holistic approach is proposed as the preferred method of conservation, including the preservation of the base-reliefs on the inside, the inscriptions on the door jambs, the reliefs on the lintels and the octagonal columns of the door construction. In addition to the physical conservation measures proposed as part of the project are the development and implementation of preventative measures. Preventative measures include providing information brochures to visitors and training the temple guards.

Project Objectives

Target 1:

  • Document and begin conservation of the of the stone reliefs
  • Research the appropriate methods of cleaning, materials
  • Train local conservators in “highly sophisticated" preservation techniques; Cambodian conservators are to carry out the work throughout the year

Target 2:

  • Completion of the conservation of stone reliefs on the northern two towers
  • Documentation and preservation of the stone reliefs at the central and southern tower
  • Review results of cleaning and preservation activities on test surfaces
  • Review results of the cleaning actions used on base-reliefs and inscriptions

Target 3:

  • Completion of preservation work on the stone reliefs
  • Completion of the cleaning and conservation of the inscriptions and base-reliefs inside the temple
  • Installation of safeguards to protect the inscriptions
  • Establishment and implementation of preventive measures

Project Partner / Coordinator

Project organization: German Apsara Conservation Project in Angkor, Cambodia GACP (www.gacp-angkor.de); Cologne University, Institute for Conservation Science, CICS (www.fh-koeln.de)

Local Partners:
APSARA National Authority ANA (Cambodian cultural authority, responsible for Angkor Park)

APSARA Stone Conservation Unit SCU (Conservation Department of APSARA, initiated by the project)


Angkor Inscription Survey, AIS, Prof. Dr. Thomas Maxwell (responsible for documenting, deciphering and interpreting the most important inscriptions at the temple)

Project coordinator: Prof. Dr. Hans Leisen

Gallery (copy 1)