Previously unknown drawings found on the walls of Angkor using new digital methods


Article by Lucia Ruggiero

447394bcc98816b5d7d81105d5b4a70c.jpgNew technological methods have been used in the discovery of drawings, or ‘graffiti’, on the walls of the temple, Angkor, in Cambodia. Every year, thousands of tourists visit the 900-year-old temple, but we can suspect that digital enthusiasts and those interested in historical sites will have even more of a reason to visit the site after this new discovery. PhD student, Noel Hidalgo Tan, of the Australian National University, discovered markings and smudges on the outer walls of Angkor four years ago and took photographic evidence of them. When studying the photographs he realised that the ‘smudges’ were actually elaborate drawings and this led to a formal, academic investigation. Hidalgo Tan used decorrelation stretching of the photographs while examining them, a method which was originally developed for satellite mapping.

Previously unnoticed by tourists and archaeologists, centuries-old images have been discovered on walls at Angkor Wat. Photo: Keith Mundy

Previously unnoticed by tourists and archaeologists, centuries-old images have been discovered on walls at Angkor Wat. Photo: Keith Mundy

This means that small details that the naked eye usually cannot see are made more visible. Through use of this digital method, subtle markings on images became much clearer and were represented digitally in striking blue and red tones. Overall, around 200 paintings on the walls of Angkor were identified, including animals, deities and mythological character, and the findings of the research were published last month in a journal called Antiquity. The discoveries made at Angkor demonstrate to us the enormous capacity of new digital technology to influence academic disciplines that move above and beyond developing new media and new technology itself. Digital methods are proving useful in the world of archaeology, not only in preserving historical sites, as the Cyark project does, but also in leading to important new historical findings and evidence.

More information:

(Photos: © Keith Mundy and



Leave a Reply

Related Articles

Cologne Cathedral to be digitally preserved
In May 2015, a team from the 3D Mind & Media degree course at Hochschule Fresenius, Faculty of Business and Media, in Cologne, under the technical direction from the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, started utilising the latest 3D survey technology to digitally record the magnificent Cologne Cathedral World Heritage Site. The project will be supported by the city of Cologne and the Dombauhütte cathedral conservation.
Japan: Sogi hydroelectric plant 3D mapped by CyArk
The Sogi hydroelectric plant, one of Kagoshima Prefecture’s most alluring historic industrial sites, has been mapped by CyArk as part of its CyArk 500 Challenge, an international project to digitally preserve some of the world’s most significant cultural heritage sites. The Sogi area, considered a significant contribution to the Meiji Industrial revolution, has been recorded in 3D by an international team thanks to the latest geospatial technologies of Topcon, the Japanese-based manufacturer ...
Waikiki Natatorium digitally preserved by CyArk
The Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium, built to honour the 10,000 Hawaii citizens who served in the First World War, has now been digitally scanned by Oakland-based non-profit CyArk in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Joining this process were teachers from the Mid-Pacific Institute, an innovative K-12 school on Oahu whose unique and advanced curricular offerings draw from the arts, humanities and technology.
The Atlantic Slave Trade in 3D
CyArk has partnered with Trimble, leading provider of advanced location-based solutions for digitally preserving eleven sites on the west coast of Africa and in the Americas and building an overall platform for broad public dissemination and education. Utilising the latest 3D laser scanning and other reality capture technologies, CyArk will scan, document and model sites associated with the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Result will be an interactive, immersive experience.