Sunday, July 17, 2005

Bayon temple tower at risk


The central tower at Bayon temple, one of the key Angkor temples in
Cambodia, is at risk of collapse, according to research by the Japanese
Government Team for Safeguarding Angkor.


Plans to shore up the Cambodian World Heritage site are being made, research team says

TOKYO - The central tower at Bayon temple, one of the key Angkor temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is at risk of collapse, according to research by the Japanese Government Team for Safeguarding Angkor.

Siem Reap also is site of the famous Angkor Wat temple complex.

The team said it will map out a restoration plan during the next five years for the monument, which is part of the Angkor area registered on the U.N. Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage List.

The Bayon temple is built of sandstone blocks with twin corridors and a number of towers.

The central tower is nearly 150 feet high, with sculptured faces on all four sides.

Parts of the sculptured faces already have fallen off, altering the symmetry the tower had when it was constructed during the late 12th century and the 13th century.

In its normal observation of the temple, the team detected no indication of the tower tilting. But during research at the nearby Prasat Sour Prat tower, the team discovered that the stone of which the Angkor monuments are constructed is vulnerable to extreme weather, including heavy rain and strong winds, and is at high risk of tilting drastically.

"The parts that have already fallen from the sculptures on the Bayon temple were presumably caused by extreme weather," said Yoshinori Iwasaki, of the Geo-Research Institute, who led the team research into the structure of the monuments and the stability of the ground.

"Some of the stone pillars supporting the (central) tower have cracks, which could lead to the collapse of the whole tower if extreme weather conditions continue."

In its "Master Plan for the Conservation and Restoration of the Bayon Complex," the team stressed that reinforcement is needed.

Those include an injection of glue between cracks or securing the tower with ropes.