Massive looting of the Bakan in the late 20th century has sadly decimated much of the artistic reliefs, however, architecture remains are still the most overt evidence of the scale and type of Buddhist activity. Beyond the obvious associations of Preah Thkol (Mahayana/Tantrism) and Preah Chatomukh (Theravada), two important decorative features are the predominance of the five-figure lintel motif and the remodelling of these figures and graffito carving of Theravada imagery on the enclosure walls. Hendrickson’s initial study of these figures suggests that Jacques’ ‘Srighana’ cult of five seated ‘buddhas’ is a modification of the original design, and perhaps a tertiary action following the purported Hindu revolt against the religion in the 13th century.

A detailed close-range photogrammetric analysis of these images will determine the degree of modification and, with the previous discovery of a remaining untouched lintel, enable re-interpretation of their initial religious dedication. Following the successful 3D reconstructions of the 2015 excavations at Preah Chatomukh and in the 3rd enclosure, a systematic and detailed digital documentation of the lintels in the 1st and 2nd enclosures was carried out by taking several hundreds of photographs. Most of these pictures will be used for 3D reconstruction and comparative analysis of the original and re-carved five Buddha’s lintels. Digital photographs for 3D modelling were taken with handheld cameras as well as a drone (Phantom 3 Pro, DJI) for the features that were inaccessible from ground shooting.

Travel to PKKS with Bakan One (by Christian Fischer, Ellen Hsieh and Tom McClintok, UCLA)

Excavation of Preah Chatomukh in 2015. 3D model and animation by Alex Wang and Christian Fischer (UCLA)