The Launch Forward
Every January, during Cambodia's dry season, Australian archaeologists fly in to excavate sites identified on Evans and Pottier's map or verify their own remote-sensing findings. The Greater Angkor Project now includes a paleobotanist, a radiocarbon-dating specialist and an American Vietnam-vet pilot, who flies the archaeologists over their sites in an ultralight plane for quick aerial views. These days, the scientists are also trailed by documentary crews filming segments on the discovery of Angkor's canal-based culture.
With Fletcher jetting around the world, Pottier has become the weary supervisor of a dozen young Anglo-Saxon scholars. At drinks after days spent in the field, the running joke is a well-delivered "Eet eez obviez!" Down the road from the EFEO, the Australians are renovating a house that will serve as the project's headquarters. They say they'll decorate it with animal skins and tacky paintings—a direct affront to refined French taste.
Bill Saturno returned to Marshall Space Flight Center a few weeks after our visit to Lingapura. Now equipped with firsthand knowledge of what to search for, he and Tom Sever decided to order Ikonos images of Angkor. They will process them this summer and then travel next winter to Angkor to verify their findings with Evans.
Meanwhile, JPL researchers are busy refining synthetic aperture radar. The latest operational version, Geosar, is the most elegant yet. Whereas eight to 10 people are needed to operate an Airsar flight, Geosar fits into the hull of a small Gulfstream jet. Most important, it has four times the resolution of Airsar, along with a longer band of radar that can penetrate through the forest canopy, allowing archaeologists to see beneath the trees rather than just read the tops of them. Evans is hopeful. "If it lives up to its promise," he says, "Geosar may revolutionize the way our work is done here."
Fletcher envisions a Geosar run over much of northern Angkor. As with Airsar, he's waiting for a government agency or private company to pay for a flight. After that, he would like to try out the technology over early settlements in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, comparing the results against Angkor. Evidence is building, he says, to suggest that Angkor is not an isolated case—that there were other sprawling, low-density cities in southeast Asia. The question is whether they, too, ensured their downfall by overengineering their landscape.
That next phase of work could have far-reaching implications. As urbanization spurs an explosion of slums in Asia, Africa and Latin America, development experts are debating how to accommodate megacities. Fletcher simply sees a resurgence of Angkorian-style settlements. He thinks remote-sensing work on the sprawl of the past could illuminate strategies for sustainability, or at least show what doesn't work. The demise of cities like Angkor won't necessarily mean that today's megacities "will fail catastrophically," he says. "But we had sure better find out."
For a look at the archaeology in action, launch the gallery here.
Mara Hvistendahl has written about science and the environment for Harper's, the Financial Times and Archaeology.
The linga is a representation of the god Shiva.
Its is the form of an egg, not a phallus.
The egg represents the universe in its seedling stage before the 'Big Bang'.
If you had eyes you would appreciate this egg shape.
Note there is not stalk attached to it so there is no way you can see a phallus in it, unless you are a moron.
It is half-articulate fools like you that insult ancient cultures.
If you want to be worthy of the title of scientist, get the whole picture and present it, rather than fragments glued together incorrectly.
Aside from that the article is nice.
Meh. Much more interesting if it WERE a phallus. An EGG? How emasculating. Pshh... shancre is a vedic fanboy.
oh shancre oh shancre..u should have first confirmed b4 writing that comment...should have saved some embarrassments
Didn't they use something like this to locate the ancient temple underneath the antartctic ice, where the humans were lured by the Predators?
There are no "vedic fanboys" who pretend that the lingam is anything but a phallus. In fact, the representation of Shiva in iconic form is that of a phallus penetrating a yoni, aka vagina.
So much for eggs.
I think that particular pantheon has an imbalance in the arm to yoni ratio.
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Whatever the abstract meaning of the lingam in classical Indian texts, this is largely irrelevant here, where the salient issues are: 1) what the object meant to the people of the culture in question; and 2) how scholars of that culture interpret the meaning.
Almost all of the ancient Khmer would have been utterly unaware of the formal meanings of things in the Indian tradition, 'cosmic eggs' or otherwise. In the Khmer traditon, linga are frequently carved with decorations showing, in elaborate and unmistakable detail, the physical characteristics of the male penis. They do indeed have a shaft, and are never even remotely egg-shaped. The Khmer-language name for the Shaivite temples that house them is 'prasat leung', which literally means 'penis temple'. I could go on (or you could just google it). It is perfectly reasonable therefore for scholars to interpret them, on one level, as phallic symbols.
The article is therefore bang on correct, and the original poster, shancre, has demonstrated for us irrefutably the moronism of which he incorrectly and hilariously accuses the article's author and subject. Nice work!
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