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Virtual Angkor: Animating Zhou Daguan’s 13th Century Descriptions of Cambodia

Lecture: Other UCB Archaeology | April 24 | 12:30-2 p.m. | Institute of East Asian Studies (2223 Fulton, 6th Floor), Conference Room


Tom Chandler, Lecturer, Information Technology, Monash University

Center for Southeast Asia Studies


Being the only surviving eyewitness description of Angkor as a lively and fully functional medieval metropolis, the account by Zhou Daguan, a 13th century Chinese emissary to Cambodia, is widely cited among historians of Cambodia. In the year of Zhou’s visit in 1296 AD, Angkor was already moving past its prime, but his diaries paint a picture of Angkor as a bustling city and an impressive seat of royal power deserving of the appellation ‘rich, noble Cambodia.’

Using 3D modelling and animation techniques, this presentation provides an overview of the work of a team of Monash researchers and animators to visualise selected excerpts from Zhou’s record of Angkor. Through the creation of virtual models based on a range of archaeological, art historical, architectural, and cartographical research, these visualisations explore new ways of teaching history, and how 3D animation can be used to make historical assumptions about Angkor more precise.

Tom Chandler is a lecturer in 3D modelling and animation in the Faculty of Information Technology at Monash University. Beginning with an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts and Archaeology, Tom worked overseas in the digital design industry before returning to Monash to complete a Ph.D. in the computer visualisations of the landscapes, architecture and daily life of medieval Angkor. Tom is currently coordinating research in a range of 3D visualisation projects at Monash that seek to reappraise the applicability of virtual worlds in diverse disciplines.


cseas@berkeley.edu, 510-642-3609