In the framework of its thematic ANR - CORPUS programme, the French National Research Agency (ANR) has decided to allocate a sum of €250,000 to support the programme presented by the EFEO (Pierre-Yves Manguin - €86,734, and the library - €100,658) and the EPHE (Guerdi Gerschheimer - €32,608), effective as of December 28, 2007. Set to last three years, the programme is entitled « Espace Khmer Ancien : Construction d'un corpus numérique de données archéologiques et épigraphiques » [Ancient Khmer World: The Construction of a Digital Corpus of Archaeological and Epigraphic Data ] (or EKA).

The programme is designed to construct a coherent practical, scientific, economic and legal framework for managing the documentation accumulated by the EFEO over the course of over a century relating to the archaeology and epigraphy of the Khmer world. The programme involves planning and implementing a system, effective over the long-term, for coordinating the conservation and digitalisation of as much of this documentation as possible and to render it accessible to the EFEO's researchers and to the wider scientific community. In the framework of the programme, the EFEO's library and photolibrary will be responsible for organising the gradual transfer of new documentation collected by ongoing EFEO research projects in this field.

Due to historical circumstances, the documentation on the Khmer world available at the EFEO is unique, irreplaceable and of inestimable value. The archaeological missions and epigraphic programmes managed by the partners of the project are no longer the only ones to focus on the Khmer world. Many scholars from the region and further afield are now working in the area. Other high quality archaeological programmes are currently ongoing. Nevertheless, EFEO research programmes are the only ones intimately based on work previously carried out at the School and on documents deriving from that work held in its collections. It should thus be possible to use the documentation generated by these new programmes to build on past research and, by digitalising existing documents, render this vital corpus accessible to the entire scientific community.

The EKA programme is backed by four ongoing EFEO archaeological missions, on inventory programmes and on work on archaeological maps, conservation, digitalisation and evaluation at the EFEO library, as well as on a joint research and inventory programme involving the EFEO and the EPHE (Corpus of Khmer Inscriptions - CIK).

The purpose of the programme is to construct a coherent practical, scientific, economic and legal framework for managing EFEO's past, present and future archaeological and epigraphic database, and ensure that the system is implemented immediately by digitalising as many documents as possible over the course of the next three years. All the actors in the chain will contribute to the programme: researchers (acquisition, description, analysis), IT specialists (data management, structuring, standardisation, exchange and storage), and librarians and curators (digitalisation of existing collections, description, cataloguing, valorisation, permanent safeguarding, management of legal rights and access to data).

The programme will culminate in the development of a software superstructure which will initially take the form of a powerful database configured to collect data recorded in the various ongoing databases. The data collected will serve the daily needs of individual projects and of the library. The purpose of the database is to centralise a substantial percentage of the work carried out by members of the archaeology and epigraphy team and the documentation held in the library. The platform, constituted by a unique relational database including interlinked tables, will provide access to all the information available to the EFEO on the pre-modern Khmer world.

After being put on line, the database will be accessible to a wide public. At a later stage, the database could be interfaced (via topographical coordinates supplied by the table of sites) with a geographical information system which will make it possible to provide a spatial representation of the data, thus dramatically improving the quality of the research tool.

The database will be put on line at the end of the programme in December 2010.