Virtually abandoned in the forest and left unstudied except the minimum survey and photography work carried out by the EFEO in the 1930s, Prasat Sralao is in similar condition to Kapilapura which was covered by recommendations at the last ICC meeting in June 2016. Our recommendations for Prasat Sralao are parallel to those for Kapilapura. The site has been cleared off and its architectural elements are now well identified.
1.1. Minimally invasive cleaning of the site should be carried out, followed by mapping it out. Both operations must include the site’s perimeter area, which perhaps extends far beyond what is currently assumed. Comparison of the tree-covered site with EFEO archive photos from the 1930’s should provide a meaningful backdrop. The site should be cleared off carefully and provisional props be put in to secure the work and to prevent structural damage. The walls engulfed by trees must not be cleared off in this initial phase.
1.2. An inventory and documentation of significant scattered stones should be made. The existing stones should be compared with the EFEO photos and thereby identified, which may reveal the loss of some stone blocks. After completion of that comparative study of documents, further archaeological research should be advanced, together with a mapping of the site and its associated features. The survey and mapping should include the buried brick structures found along the access paths to the temple, as well as the mounds and settlement patterns barely visible along the ancient road.
1.3. As has been done at Kapilapura, the archaeological survey and conservation of this site should be assigned to the relevant team within the APSARA National Authority, which will submit reports to the ICC.
1.4. To be done before opening the site to visitors:
1.4.1. The leaning walls of the central and northern shrines should be properly consolidated;
1.4.2. Site access must be facilitated; and
1.4.3. Informational/explanatory signs should be put up to help visitors to identify the ruins. Point 1) is urgent. Vegetation clearance must be in harmony with the cultural landscape of the site, preserving the forest canopy over the complex and the atmosphere of the place, centered on the temple ruins. The typical landscape surrounding the temple, rice paddies, trees, ponds, etc., should also be worked into the integrity of the site.
1.5. The APSARA National Authority must provide the necessary equipment to ensure proper performance of the conservation work. The human resources needed for site surveying and protection must also be provided.
1.6. Just as with Kapilapura, Prasat Sralao must be viewed as a pilot project to be followed by other smaller temples or temple complexes that are found in the Angkor zone. It will be an ‘example’ for the restoration of abandoned structures that need to be cleaned, re-documented with sophisticated instruments, structurally reinforced, and clearly identified by signs prior to opening them to tourists.