Cambodia and Mexico to Co-host Conference on Heritage Site Maintenance

Mexican archeologists at work painted by artist Fernando Aceves Humana. Photo provided.

Accessible online, the conference initiated by a Mexican artist is meant for the general public in Cambodia, Mexico and beyond

PHNOM PENH--The First Mexico-Cambodia Colloquium of Archeology and Restoration, which starts on June 8 and can be accessed via YouTube and Facebook after much planning, will give the two countries a chance to share their experiences in archeological conservation with the public.

Two countries, located exactly on opposite sides of the planet—with a 12-hour time difference—each with cultural monuments more than a millennium old and, in southern Mexico, a similar climate.

During the talks meant for the general public, experts from both countries will explain their work to preserve these historical monuments and the research conducted to expand our collective knowledge of those who built them.  

However, they have been asked to start their talks on a personal note, said Mexican artist Fernando Aceves Humana who initiated the series and has painted heritage sites and archeologists at work for years. 

“We only had one question for the archeologists: What moved you when you were young to dedicate your life to archeology,” he said. “The meaning of these lectures is also to show young people the possibility to choose this profession.”

Held live before a 100-strong audience—most of them students—the program has been packaged in a series of eight conferences available in English, Spanish and Khmer. Accessible online in Cambodia on June 8 through 11, June 15 through 17 and June 22, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., each conference features one speaker who gives a lecture meant for the general public and then answers questions from the audience.


Protecting the Ta Prohm monument so that tree roots and branches will continue supporting it while not causing further damage is one of the challenges experts must deal with in the Angkor Archeological Park. Photo provided. 

Speakers include archaeologist Sergio Gomez Chavez, director of the Ciudadela project and the Tlalocan project, and who leads the exploration of a tunnel underneath the Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan in Mexico. Meanwhile, from Cambodia, archaeologist Sothin Kim who serves as deputy director general of the Apsara National Authority along with archaeologist Pheng Samoeun, director of monuments and archaeology for the National Authority for Preah Vihear are scheduled to speak on the rescue of the Angkorian site of Preah Vihear in northwestern Cambodia.

The story behind what has made this conference possible goes back to 2007 when Aceves Humana first visited Cambodia. “This changed my life,” he said.

In 2011, he enlisted a group of Mexican artists to supply the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh with an etching press as there never had been one in the country. This was done through Mexican artists donating artworks in exchange for funding and lobbying for support to send the 390-kilogram press by ship from Mexico to Cambodia. The Mexicans also set up a workshop and taught Cambodian artists the use of the press and etching techniques.  

While in Cambodia, Aceves Humana met Kerya Chau Sun of the National Apsara Authority and this led in 2016 to a memorandum of understanding being established between Apsara and Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Histori (national institute of anthropology and history) (INAH).

Today, it is these two organizations that have made this online event possible, Chau Sun said. “While we don’t have the same civilization, we have a similar climate and our restoration problems and challenges are more or less the same,” she said. “Such [an] event helps maintain relations between heritage experts.”

The conferences will be accessible at these sites in Khmer, Spanish and English:

La Buena Impresión (an NGO teaching visual arts and printing techniques in Oaxaca in Mexico and in which Aceves Humana is involved):


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