La journée a été un peu particulière car nous avons conclu le workshop. La matinée était libre pour tout le monde: nous devions finir notre travail en priorité afin de le présenter en fin d’après-midi à l’ensemble du groupe. J’ai commencé par cela le matin puis j’ai fini de rédiger les blogs des jours précédents. J’en ai profité pour écrire mes cartes et les poster. C’était agréable et calme. Ceux qui le voulaient, pouvaient assister à la conférence menée par Mme Brunet et M. Bodel sur l’épigraphie grecque et latine à l’Université de Phnom Penh.
Après avoir mangé en petit groupe dans un très bon restaurant cambodgien, je suis allée avec Adeline et Nicolas au Central Market. C’est un énorme marché dans lequel on trouve absolument tout : écharpes, bijoux, montres, vêtements, nourritures, produits I-tech, etc. Ce marché se trouve dans un bâtiment Art Nouveau qui est plutôt joli. C’était très sympa de s’aventurer dans les dédales du marché, pleines d’odeurs mais aussi très fatiguant. Le bruit est assez assourdissant.
En fin d’après-midi, chaque groupe a présenté le résultat de son travail.
In the morning of this, our last day of real work in Cambodia, most of the students stayed at the hotel to work on their projects, but I accompanied John and Michèle to Phnom Penh’s University of Fine Art, where they had been invited to give a talk on Greek and Roman Epigraphy. The university is located next to the National Museum, and indeed its history is closely tied to the Museum, for the original French directors of the museum wanted to found a school to promote the arts in Cambodia, and in the past, students’ artwork occupied a gallery of the museum.
The university houses a department of archaeology, whose dean invited John and Michèle to talk to some of his students. It was drizzling as we walked over to the university, picking up several French scholars working at the National Museum along the way who were also attending. The lecture was held in a classroom packed with wooden desks and chairs and about 30 students.
After a short introduction by one of the teachers, Michèle spoke first and introduced the students to some of the basics of studying greek epigraphy. She stressed the fact that the Greek characters used for inscriptions differed from those used on manuscripts, whereas, as we had learned, there was no such distinction with Khmer characters. Most importantly, she talked about doing epigraphy in a digital age, mentioning the work she and John have done with the Visible Words program, and the building of a digital library of squeezes she has been carrying out at Lyon.
Next, John gave a similarly basic introduction to Latin epigraphy. His discussion focused more on the periodization of inscriptions and the range of materials that were inscribed. He too drew a comparison between his field and what we had learned of Khmer epigraphy, pointing out again that Latin characters had both capital and cursive forms and also that they were carved more deeply than we had seen with Khmer characters.
As with any group of students, there seemed to be a range of engagement with the talks. Given the language barrier, I was impressed to notice that one student was taking detailed notes in English but also not surprised that another took no notes at all. Yet at the end, their teacher gave a summary of the talks in Khmer, which (from the Greek and Roman names and terms I could discern) seemed to accurately convey the salient points.
All in all, it was an enlightening experience for me, both to see a university in another country, and to witness two experts in their field introducing it to students to whom it was wholly new. I know we have all learned a lot from our introduction to epigraphy in Cambodia, and hopefully, through this talk, the students there were able to learn a little about Greek and Latin epigraphy.
After so many intense days in the field, the relatively slow-paced morning provided a welcome opportunity to reflect on all we had seen while also preparing for the afternoon’s presentations. I used this time to make a final visit to the National Museum to ask some final questions about estampage making, which had been the topic of the previous days work. The museum curators and staff were extremely helpful and generous with their time and resources.
The presentations in the afternoon were all very impressive. The most useful aspect of this, for me, was the chance to see the myriad ways in which people were able to represent the data we had gathered over the previous week. Given the technological aptitudes of the many of the group’s members, it was an instructive introduction to what is possible as we attempt to communicate to others the most compelling aspects of the dense body of primary evidence. These considerations continued to occupy my mind on the journey home. As I am set to begin a new project in which the spatial distribution of land-grant inscriptions will be a central focus, I plan to incorporate some of the methods used by other team members. Tim’s use of map-making programs to represent aspects of chronology and spatiality was particularly compelling for me.
And while the day’s concluding session represented some of the intellectual synergy that is possible among a group of scholars working in different geographic areas, it too revealed some persistent ‘fault lines’. Some of these can be attributed to the vagaries of language and translation. In some cases, however, we were confronted with the need for a shared vocabulary and definitions for key terms (text and script, for example) that would allow us to create a stable ‘base’ that would support the more theoretical and comparative reflections that we were encouraged to make.