The round structure of Chœung Ek: M. Olivier de Bernon’s lecture

Lectured by Mr. Olivier de Bernon

The circular structure of Chœung Ek hardly discernable at ground level is, however, easily identifiable from the sky.

Composed of the remains of a ditch about 10 meters wide, this structure forms a perfect circle of some 760 m in diameter in the center of which we found a cruciform terrace. The discovery of several charcoals in several characteristic points allowed to locate the construction of the round structure of Chœung Ek and its abandonment between the middle of the seventh century, the middle of the eighth century.

This structure has been abusively associated with the “round cities” of Cambodia or Thailand, but it differs in all respects.

Near Chœung Ek, there is the largest concentration of ceramic furnaces in Southeast Asia, but no shard in the filling of the ditch. It can therefore be said that the structure was abandoned before the establishment of the ceramic industry.

This structure forms a horizontal “natural balcony” which slightly dominates an open landscape, consisting of a vast “lake”. This “natural balcony” was not originally exactly circular, the “engineers” of Chœung Ek had to proceed in the seventh century to significant and technically complex planning work: flattening of certain parcels or, on the contrary, raising and consolidating the rounding.

As no urban, agricultural, hydraulic, military or artisanal necessity could have led, in the seventh or early eighth century, to the construction of a monumental ditch defining a perfectly circular circle of 780 m in diameter, we proposed adopting the research hypothesis that Chœung Ek’s round structure was able to respond to a ritual necessity for momentary use, or that it constituted an astronomical measuring instrument. In this last hypothesis, the circular canal could serve as an artificial horizon intended to favor azimuthal sights intended for astronomical observations.

Conducted in French
Free admission, limited seats

  • December 6, 2019 · 6:00 pm
  • Bophana Center
  • Conferences