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Interpreting Iconography at East Mebon


The temples of Angkor as we see them today give only a partial view of their former state. Throughout centuries, lootings and occupations have upset their furnishings, and much archaeological research has been terminated, thus separating the scarce remaining items from their original context. Nonetheless, architecture and iconography still in situ together with archaeological finds, now kept in collections and museums, still provide clues of their past appearance and uses.

Focusing on East Mebon temple, this presentation is an essay of the recontextualization of its archaeological remains. Constructed in the 10th c., East Mebon displays a series of lintel collections in place. Statues and cult paraphernalia as well as an important inscription, the stela K. 528, were found.

This study aims to cross-references artifacts and their iconography with archaeological, epigraphical, historical, and architectural analysis data. It also includes comparisons with Indian art and textual sources that have influenced Angkorian culture. The goal is to apply a methodology of reading of the temple and observe the outcome.

This lecture presents the preliminary results of a postdoctoral research conducted with a CKS fellowship in 2020 and 2021.



Dr. Sophie Biard is a graduate PhD from Sorbonne Paris 3 and the Ecole du Louvre, specialist in art history of Cambodia, and an associate researcher of IAO laboratory in Lyon. Her research focuses on the national archaeological collections of Cambodia, and the study of Angkorian art. She worked at the stone conservation laboratory of the National Museum of Cambodia with EFEO from 2014 to 2019, and in Siem Reap with EFEO since 2020. She is currently a fellow of CKS undertaking postdoctoral research regarding the temples built under Rājendravarman II’s reign and their archaeological deposits.


Dr. Brice Vincent is an associate professor of the French School of Asian Studies (EFEO) and head of the EFEO center in Siem Reap. He specialized during his academic studies in Khmer archeology, before devoting himself through doctoral and post-doctoral research to the study of the metallurgies of ancient and modern Cambodia. He currently coordinates the LANGAU research program – “copper” in Old Khmer –, which promotes a multidisciplinary approach of copper-base metallurgy in Angkorian Cambodia (9th-15th centuries). Since 2016, the archaeological and archaeometallurgical study of a royal foundry site in Angkor Thom has been one of the main components of this program (LANGAU – Casting for the King project, APSARA National Authority and EFEO).


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