Torino, Italy — Devata di Angkor Wat — a short video by researchers at Cultor.org — features the sacred women depicted at Angkor Wat with a classical music soundtrack. For a thousand years, the jungle temple of Angkor Wat in modern Cambodia has preserved an unexamined artistic treasure: nearly 2,000 detailed human portraits carved in a single generation. Scientists from Michigan State University presented results of the first scientific analysis at a computer vision conference in Istanbul on August 22, 2010. [link to English language article]
The true identity of these women remains a mystery. While early explorers simply assumed they were imaginary goddesses carved by artisans, their diversity and realism provides ample evidence that they were real women, portrayed in the most sacred setting ever constructed by the Khmer civilization, the Hindu temple of Angkor Wat.
American researcher Kent Davis has studied the women intensively since 2005. His theory is that the Angkor Wat enshrines a 12th century royal portrait gallery that modern observers can think of as a 12th century Facebook, saying
“Angkor Wat is a 12th century Facebook, but no one has ever heard of this social network. This was the biggest temple the Khmer people ever built. It is still the largest religious structure on Earth! It must have been important to them because they threw everything into it. They would have only put their most important images into it; these women must have been incredibly important to the kingdom.”
His conviction is that the images represent a broad range of women who actively participated in Khmer society as government officials, scribes, royal attendants, dancers, priestesses, educators and more.
Cultor.org educators have now translated the initial results into Italian, and produced the captivating video overview below for Italian viewers.
La scienza svela il segreto delle Devata di Angkor Wat
Founded by the University of Turin in 1999, Cultor — an acronym forCultura Torino— now provides exceptional cultural resources online atCultor.org. Their extensive Internet resource has become one of the most important cultural websites in Europe with more than 18,000 visitors each month.