Archaeology Group Looks at Life in Medieval Cambodia

The Peterborough Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society (POAS) is pleased to present Ms Sophie Goldberg with a discussion entitled: “Swamps, Suburbs and Sprawl: Exploring the Urban Demography of Angkor, Medieval Cambodia” on the evening of Tuesday, May 23rd, at 7:00 pm in Room 106 at Gzowski College, Trent University.

When the archaeology of the S.E. Asian country of Cambodia is invoked, most people’s thoughts immediately go to images of the enormous temple complex called Angkor Wat. It has been cited as the world’s largest religious monument. However, it was only a part of the city of Angkor, the capital city of the Khmer state, which flourished from 802 to 1432 CE.


Our May speaker is a second year masters student in the Trent Anthropology program, whose thesis studies have taken her to the site of Angkor,  the “largest ‘dispersed,’ ‘low-density’ city in antiquity” to examine the ecology of this complex stratified society. Her goal was to gain knowledge about social forces required to build and maintain this city of some 750,000 people, and specifically, the role of public health in supporting food production. She further questions if lessons learned here can be applied to other complex, intensive agrarian societies around the world.


From Ms Goldberg:

“In the on-going conversation surrounding Angkor’s settlement archaeology, there has been a call to better understand the lifeways of the agriculturists and other food producers that made up eighty percent of this city’s population--from independent enclaves of rice farmers who largely controlled their own daily affairs, to the fishermen and foragers of forest products, and the bondspeople who were beholden to individual temples or the ruling families---rather than the small segment (less than five percent) of the royal elite and aristocracy that have garnered the greatest amount of scholarly attention. My thesis, and this presentation, examines one particularly understudied topic: the role of health and disease patterns of these different communities within the capital city of Angkor, and what it meant for the resilience, or sustainability, of the state.”

This evening is part of POAS monthly Speakers Series, which is open to the public at no charge, and conducted with the support of the City of Peterborough and the Trent University Archaeological Research Centre. Light refreshments will be served. For further information contact: Tom Mohr, chapter president, at or Dirk Verhulst, chapter secretary at

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