Scientists Uncover Ancient Art at Angkor Wat

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One of the ancient paintings at Angkor Wat, seen at right when enhanced on a computer.

SIEM REAP, (Khmer Times) — An Australian researcher, who was part of an archeological team at Angkor Wat in 2010, has digitally enhanced his photos to reveal never-before-seen images of 500 year-old paintings.
 
 
Dr. Noel Hidalgo Tan, a researcher at Australian National University used a process known as decorrelation stretch analysis to make the discovery. “I saw those paintings on the wall; I thought there might be something there, so I took a photograph of them,” he said.
 
 
“I processed them in the computer later and realized that they were elaborate paintings, and not just traces of pigment,” said Dr. Tan. The technology is also used by NASA to enhance photos taken on Mars.
 
 
The paintings are similar to indigenous rock art found around the world, but uniquely capture ancient life during the decline of the Khmer Empire (800-1600 C.E.), and depicting European contact by sailing vessels. They also portray the importance of music, gods and elephants as part of the culture.
 
 
“Angkor isn’t particularly close to the sea, but we have different sorts of water crafts depicted, even European ships, indicating some contact with Europeans at the time,” he said.
 
 
More than 200 images were studied and many are thought to be ancient graffiti by visitors in the 16th century.
 
 

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