The great city and temples remained largely cloaked by the forest until the late 19th century when French archaeologists began a long restoration process. From 1907 to 1970 work was under the direction of the École française d’Extrême-Orient, which cleared away the forest, repaired foundations, and installed drains to protect the buildings from water damage. In addition, scholars associated with the school and including George Coedès, Maurice Glaize, Paul Mus, Philippe Stern and others initiated a program of historical scholarship and interpretation that is fundamental to the current understanding of Angkor.
After the end of the Cambodia civil war, Angkor Wat has seen a resumption of conservation efforts jointly co-ordinated by the French and Japanese and UNESCO through the International Co-ordinating Committee on the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC), while Cambodian work is carried out by the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA). The temple is part of the Angkor World Heritage Site, established in 1992, which has provided some funding and has encouraged the Cambodian government to protect the site.
Some temples have been carefully taken apart stone by stone and reassembled on concrete foundations, in accordance with the method of anastylosis. Other work involves the repair of collapsed sections of the structure, and prevention of further collapse: the west facade of the upper level, for example, has been buttressed by scaffolding since 2002, while a Japanese team completed restoration of the north library of the outer enclosure in 2005.
Angkor Wat restoration notice
German Apsara Conservation Project
Restoration worker was cleaning the stone
Restoration at Baphuon Temple
Drawing of Angkor Wat’s original structure