Les Conférences Iéna

Art, archéologie et
anthropologie de l’Asie




cycle 2009

Annual theme
“Temple, city and territory in Southeast Asia ”

 Studies of temples have always occupied a major place in the historiography of ancient Southeast Asia. Most research focused on the religious functions of the monument, which dictated both its architectural forms and its decoration.

The temple as an architectural object, however, is central to the structuring process of state territories. As royal temple or as village sanctuary, it remains a central element of social space. Through representations common to the whole region, it defines a space associated with political authority and, together with its religious community, it functions as a focal point of economic life.

Archaeologists and historians of urbanism apprehend the temple by way of a variety of spatial logics, to which correspond complementary thematic approaches. The radioscopy of the temple brings in the historical data on the evolution of architecture; the analysis of its statuary and decoration informs us on the specifications imposed upon the architect, as well as on religious practices; the study of its position in urban and regional landscapes leads to demographic and economic analyses; the archaeological mapping of the entire state’s territory reveals localisation practices for both the temple and the city, and constitutes an essential tool for the study of territorial control by the State.

Through examples taken in various places and various times in Southeast Asia, these lectures will illustrate and question the role played by the temple in the development of indianised civilisations of both Continental and Insular Southeast Asia.

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