Archaeology world mourns Damian Evans, who found medieval cities close to Angkor Wat | Archaeology

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Tributes circulation for ‘extremely beneficiant’ Australian Canadian researcher, who used house laser expertise to uncover landscapes in south-east Asia

Thu 14 Sep 2023 10.44 BST

The world-leading Australian Canadian archaeologist Dr Damian Evans, who performed a crucial position in discovering beforehand undocumented medieval cities close to Angkor Wat, has died from mind lymphoma.

Shut associates confirmed Evans handed away on 12 September in Paris, the place he was primarily based working for the town’s École Française d’Extrême-Orient.

For the reason that Nineteen Nineties, he has labored extensively in Cambodia, the place his cutting-edge analysis utilizing house laser expertise to uncover archaeological landscapes in south-east Asia has reworked the sphere.

Most notably, the staff’s discovery of a number of medieval cities between 900 and 1,400 years outdated not removed from the traditional temple metropolis of Angkor Wat upended key assumptions about south-east Asia’s historical past.

Tributes poured in for Evans from his worldwide colleagues on Wednesday night.

The College of Melbourne’s Professor Roland Fletcher supervised Evans for his honours thesis, the place he produced the primary complete map of the entire of higher Angkor.

It led to the Better Angkor Mission, led by Fletcher and Evans, and a serious collaboration with French archeologist Christophe Pottier to provide a brand new general map of the area.

“He was all the time extraordinarily competent and intensely environment friendly,” he mentioned. “Excellent at working with individuals and organising.”

Alison Carter, assistant professor within the Division of Anthropology on the College of Oregon, met Damian in 2008 when she was in Cambodia doing her dissertation analysis.

“He instantly invited me to affix him on a survey challenge,” she posted on social media. “He barely knew me, however was extremely beneficiant along with his time and data.

“Damian was additionally an ideal author and editor. I may all the time depend on him to enhance a manuscript draft. There have been many occasions I believed I had made an excellent level in my very own work, solely to return and see that Damian mentioned it first, and higher.

“Damian was often grumpy, however largely heat, beneficiant, and humorous. We misplaced him too quickly.”

From 2007 to 2015 Evans was the founding director of the College of Sydney’s Abroad Analysis Centre at Siem Reap-Angkor.

His PhD analysis on the college produced a complete map of Angkor in Cambodia primarily based on aerial images, survey and distant sensing expertise.

Following its completion, Evans was one of many first researchers to make use of wide-area airborne laser scanning (Lidar) expertise to uncover and analyse higher Angkor’s city and agricultural networks.

His findings reworked students’ understanding of the panorama from previous to current day.

In 2014, Evans was awarded a beginning grant from the European Analysis Council (ERC) for his Cambodian Archaeological Lidar Initiative and moved his analysis to France.

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New expertise reveals hidden cities within the Angkor area

The next 12 months, his staff carried out probably the most intensive airborne research ever taken by archaeologists – utilizing a laser radar mounted on a helicopter to scan an space of the jungle in Cambodia comparable in measurement to higher London.

They found a community of historical Cambodian cities, courting again to prehistory and encompassing the Angkor empire from the ninth to fifteenth centuries AD.

The analysis was described by the ERC as “probably the most bold program of archaeological lidar ever achieved in Asia”.

Fletcher mentioned Evans’ vitality and dedication working with native Cambodian authorities, together with Apsara, which manages Angkor, allowed the challenge to be carried to completion.

“[Using Lidar] fully reworked our understanding of the center of Angkor – it was all beneath the timber, buried within the forest, however we may see it for the primary time laid naked,” he mentioned.

“I keep in mind colleagues sat in our analysis facility for hours into the night time simply watching these fabulous photographs … the knowledge load was so large it may solely be processed slowly, like watching magic seem.

“It was one of the vital unimaginable experiences of my life.”

Andy Brouwer, unbiased researcher with Hanuman Journey and Hanuman Movies, mentioned Evans’ identify had been synonymous with “ground-breaking discoveries in understanding extra concerning the extent of the Khmer Empire”.

Pipad Krajaejun, lecturer at Thammasat College, thanked Evans for encouraging south-east Asian archaeologists to discover the world of Lidar expertise to guage archaeological websites.

“My reminiscences of assembly him in Siem Reap 9 years in the past [are] nonetheless vivid,” he wrote on social media.

“Thanks very a lot in your nice work and for uplifting Southeast Asian archaeologists.”

Previous to his dying, Evans had joined the École Française d’Extrême-Orient to supervise a multimillion-dollar challenge uncovering and mapping early cities utilizing airborne laser scanning, and was endeavor archaeological excursions of Laos and Cambodia with Far Horizons.

He has acquired 1000’s of citations and appeared in quite a few world documentaries and information articles, together with the Nationwide Geographic Channel and the Historical past Channel’s documentaries on Angkor.

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