Research Project

Mitchel, Hendrickson

Industries of Angkor Project Intensification and Control of Iron Production During the Expansion

Principal Investigator
Hendrickson, Mitchel
Funding Source
National Science Foundation


The Industries of Angkor Project (INDAP) was established to investigate the interrelationship between transportation and supply/demand of valuable commodities as a means of modelling pre-modern state expansion. Focusing on iron – globally viewed as a catalyst for sudden societal changes yet never directly tested – this project will compare the scale and intensity of production with proxies of iron usage during the zenith of Khmer power between the 11th to 13th centuries. Our hypothesis is that Angkor’s expansion is directly related to increased access over Phnom Dek, the richest source of iron and largest metallurgical landscape in Cambodia, made possible via construction of one of the capital’s royal roads. INDAP’s preliminary studies identified that iron was produced from the 9th to 20th centuries at Phnom Dek and that iron from this important region was utilized in Angkor’s temples (Pryce, et al. 2014). Incorporating innovative multidisciplinary techniques, our experienced team will undertake the first direct investigation of Angkor’s ability to expand through a holistic investigation of its metallurgical history. In addition to determining whether the Khmer were actively in control of iron production we seek to directly test the long-held assertion that iron enables empire-building