PRESS FOCUS 2011
UNESCO supports Government of Thailand in recovery of Ayutthaya World Heritage

21 December 2011 – UNESCO affirms its commitment to cooperate closely with the Government of Thailand in restoring the World Heritage site of
Ayutthaya after the disastrous 2011 floods. UNESCO is mobilizing world-class expertise and facilitating international collaboration to support the
Ministry of Culture’s Fine Arts Department in the recovery effort. “UNESCO is concerned about the recovery of Ayutthaya both in the short-term
and the long-term,” says Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of the UNESCO Bangkok office. “A multi-disciplinary effort will be needed to ensure that the
historic site and its larger urban and natural context will be sustainably managed in the future.” Experts mobilized by UNESCO are formulating
recommendations for the restoration of the monuments and decorative features, especially mural paintings, along with the overall conservation of
Ayutthaya as a living urban landscape as well as comprehensive water management measures to mitigate future flooding impacts. UNESCO’s
international experts include Mr Carlo Giantomassi (mural painting specialist from Italy) and Dr Zoran Vojinovic (water management specialist from
the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands). In addition, experts from Germany, Japan, Portugal and the United States of
America supported by their respective governments have also surveyed the site. The international expertise is designed to complement advice from
Thai specialists from the Asian Institute of Technology, Association of Siamese Architects, Department of Public Works and Town Planning,
Engineering Institute of Thailand, Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute and ICOMOS Thailand who have also been cooperating with UNESCO and
the Fine Arts Department. The entire historic island of Ayutthaya and its surrounding area was submerged by water for over a month starting in early
October 2011. A total of 157 historic monuments in and around Ayutthaya World Heritage Site have been affected by the floods. Ayutthaya was
inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991. Founded c. 1350, the historic city was the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. [Source: UNESCO
Bangkok]

Ayutthaya's monuments of serious concern : Foreign experts

10 Dec 2011 - UNESCO's international experts have expressed concern about the stability of the monuments, foundations and decorative works in
the historic city of Ayutthaya, which were hit hard by the worst flooding in decades. Tim Curtis, chief of UNESCO' Bangkok culture unit, said there
is a need to closely monitor the condition of the sites and the affected monuments, especially in the next few months after the foundations and
structures dry out and over the long term. The entire island of historic Ayutthaya and its surrounding area was under water for over a month starting
on October 4. In some areas, the floodwaters were about three metres deep. While the water has receded in the inner island, a number of
monuments in the outer periphery remain flooded. More than 100 historic monuments in and around the Ayutthaya World Heritage Site have been
affected by floods, according to the Ministry of Culture's Department of Fine Arts. At the request of the Thai government, the first official international
expert mission to Thailand on the restoration of the
Ayutthaya Historical Park and cultural monuments was held last week to plan for post-flood
recovery. It included damage assessment, emergency stabilisation, restoration, and planning to make the impacts less severe in the long-term. With
support from UNESCO, the mission included Carlo Giantomassi, mural painting expert from Italy and Dr Zoran Vojinovic, a water management
specialist from the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands. Giantomassi said the situation of the murals is of serious concern.
They have been damaged by water and salt, and also show cracking. Due to the water being drawn up into the images, there has been capillary
action with water rising from 80 centimetres to two metres high. Field testing found both sulphate and nitrate salts, which deteriorate, degrade and
ultimately destroy the classic murals. "The situation is very bad in 90 per cent of the cases, because of the humidity from the 80 cm to two metres
levels and the presence of sulphate and nitrates. A great problem in Thailand is the humidity and capillarity. Every wat [temple] I visited was affected
by this problem. If you don't stop it completely, there will be a lot of damage in the future," he said. Vojinovic said that water management needs to
be carried out at both micro- and macro- levels. The flow capacity of the waterways in Ayutthaya is approximately 1,500 cubic meters per second.
As the measured inflow on October 4 was 3,300 cubic meters per second - over double the waterways' capacity - flooding occurred. "A
combination of both structural and non-structural solutions needs to be considered; one without the other will not be sufficient," he said. Vojinovic
also suggested that in the short-term, existing dykes can be improved or raised, canals should be dredged and portable dykes and pumps can be
deployed. In the mid-term, some of the channels can be widened, multi-purpose ponds can be built for water retention during the rainy season, and
monuments can be flood-proofed, he said. In the long-term, measures may be needed to counteract the mega-scale of water, such as construction of
diversion channels. Through the assistance of the Japanese government, Yoko Futagami, a conservation specialist and Dr Tetsuo Mizuta, a flood risk
management specialist, also joined the mission. Futagami from the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Culture Heritage said the
monuments show salt efflorescence and accumulation of salt and mud, which leads to growth of algae and scaling of the brick surface. The field
survey mission was undertaken on November 30 and December 1 at key monuments in Ayutthaya, some of which are still partly flooded, such as
Pom Phet Fort and Wat Chaiwattanaram, while others are already dry, such as Wat Phra Si San Phet. A detailed assessment will be required to
determine the extent of any damage. The water management experts surveyed the existing permanent and temporary waterways and water
management infrastructure in the historical island and the outside area, while the mural conservation specialists inspected temples with important
murals such as
Wat Pradoo and Wat Puttaisawan. The international experts worked alongside Thai specialists from the Asian Institute of Technology,
Department of Public Works and Town Planning, Engineering Institute of Thailand, ICOMOS Thailand and the Association of Siamese Architects.
The mission was accompanied by specialists from the Fine Arts Department and representatives of the embassies of Portugal and the United States.
"We have two issues at hand: first is the heritage conservation of Ayutthaya as a World Heritage Site in a living urban landscape; second is the flood
water management issue of the whole flood plain. We need to link those two together," concluded Curtis of Unesco Bangkok. The historic city of
Ayutthaya was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991. Founded circa 1350, Ayutthaya was the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. Its
remains, characterised by prang (reliquary towers) and gigantic monasteries, give an idea of its past splendour. [Source: The Nation]

Bt1.4bn approved for Ayutthaya's historical sites

06 Dec 2011 - The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Culture Ministry's proposal for Bt1.44 billion (about US$46 million) to restore Ayutthaya's
historical sites, damaged by more than a month of flooding, The budget would be for the restoration of 313 historical sites in 41 provinces. The
Cabinet also endorsed an additional budget of Bt45 million to renovate 141 mosques and churches hit by the floods. Earlier Culture Minister
Sukumol Kunplome said that a survey by specialists from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) of
historical sites in Ayutthaya, Thailand’s 600year old former capital, had found damage from flooding such as flaking, mildew stain and efflorescence
on murals particularly at the
Choeng Tha Temple where the damage is critical. The ministry had therefore requested the sum to renovate the sites. The
structures of many historic buildings have also been affected, such as at the
Ayothaya Temple, where considerable structural rebuilding will be
required. The ministry is also looking at digging a moat around the city as existed in the old days, to act as a flood prevention barrier for the city. On
December 18, Thai and Japanese experts will conduct another survey to assess the damage on historical sites following the flooding. The ministry will
also invite the private sector and other agencies to finance the restoration after the Finance Ministry announces tax incentives. [Source: The Nation]

Ancient Ayutthaya temples at risk, UNESCO warns

4 Dec 2011 - Historic murals at Ayutthaya's ancient temples face threats from fungi, algae and salt stains following the severe recent flooding,
UNESCO experts have warned. Experts from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation said they found algae and salt
stains on temple bricks during their post-flood survey of ancient sites in the province, Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome revealed. The UNESCO
experts from Italy, the Netherlands and Japan this week surveyed many historic sites in the province, including
Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Mahathat
and
Wat Chaiwattanaram. They also discovered salt stains and fungi on ancient murals on the walls inside sermon halls and Ubosot halls of many
temples such as
Wat Chang Yai, Wat Kasatrathirat Worawihan, Wat Pradusongtham, Wat Khanon Nua, Wat Yai Chumphol and Wat Cherng Tha,
she said. Fine Arts Department deputy director-general Anek Seehamart said algae were found between bricks at Wat Phra Sri Sanphet and Wat
Chaiwattanaram. Responding to concerns about the impact on the structures, Thai engineers said they were strong but they would check again while
repairing them. Experts on bricks from Japan would conduct a survey again in the middle of this month and give advice on how to deal with algae and
salt stains. Sukumol added that the Italian expert reported finding traces of nitrate salts on the walls and fungi, adding that fungi would cause corrosion
over wider areas. The paintings have been done with traditional techniques as the craftsmen did not have anti-corrosion coating technology. So, the
ministry will have to repair them urgently. In addition to the historic temples, nine mosques and the
Portuguese Village in the same province have been
severely damaged. Authorities are trying to restore them. Sukumol said that she and officials from the department will today visit Ayutthaya to survey
the damage before reporting to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on how they could recover the affected ancient sites. They would also try to
promote those sites, which are more than 400 years old, among foreign tourists to woo them back. As a long-term prevention measure, the experts
urged Thailand to dig and clear obstacles in canals and provide more areas to store flood waters so as to ease the severity of floods that would affect
residents there. [Source: The Nation - Pakamas Jaichalard]

Floods Damage 131 Historical Sites

1 December 2011 - The Fine Arts Department discloses that 131 historical sites in Ayutthaya have been damaged by floods. Fine Arts Office 3
Director Supoj Prommanoch said his office has come up with plans to repair historical sites in Ayutthaya Province that have been hit by floods.
Among the historical sites, the Chaiwattanaram Temple remains flooded. Initial water level there was estimated at almost two meters. Officials have
been draining water into the Chao Phraya River at up to ten centimeters each day in order to prevent the pagoda from collapsing because the pagoda
has been swamped for a long period of time. Supoj went on to say that a total of 131 historical sites have been affected. The department must wait
for the government to approve a budget for renovations, and in the meantime, engineers have been inspecting and assessing the damage to each site.
The province has not removed sandbags from the Chao Phraya River bank yet even though the water level in the river has receded significantly.
[Source: thailandoutlook.tv]

Many sites in Ayutthaya face risk of crumbling

1 December 2011 - Many experts are worried that an ancient pagoda in Ayutthaya might come tumbling down because its base has been found to
be severely damp, Soamsuda Leeyawanich, director general of the Fine Arts Department, said yesterday. She was inspecting historical sites in
Ayutthaya with experts from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). Ayutthaya, which was granted the World
Heritage status in 1991, was one of the many provinces devastated by one of the worst floods in decades. "There is concern that the base may no
longer be strong enough to carry the weight of the [centuries old] pagoda," she said, adding that there were some signs of the top of the pagoda
crumbling. With flood waters slowly receding, large cracks are starting to be noticed in several statues and ancient structures that have been
submerged for more than a month. The most famous reclining Buddha in
Wat Lokkaya-suttharam is also severely cracked. Soamsuda said her
department would spend more than Bt600 million (S$24.9 million) on repairing the 130 historical sites damaged by the floods. She added that the
Unesco team was gathering information to seek funding for the restoration. So far, the UN agency has approved US$72,000 (Bt2.24 million) in initial
assistance. "Unesco will review all the relevant information to consider additional grants if the government makes a request," Soamsuda explained,
adding that the team of experts had also provided useful advice on how to restore the sites in line with international standards. Archaeology expert
Toko Futagami said she would examine the brick walls of
Wat Phra Si Sanphat before providing guidelines on how to deal with the moss and water
stains. Some ancient structures like
Wat Chaiwattanaram are still flooded, though Chaiyanand Busayarat, director of the Ayutthaya Historical Park,
said he hoped the waters would recede by next week. "After that inspections can be conducted to determine the damages," he said. As of yesterday,
the area was under nearly a metre of water. Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome said her ministry was planning to seek more than Bt1.4 billion for
the restoration of 313 historical sites damaged by floods across the country. "The Culture Ministry will make the request at the Cabinet meeting next
week," she said. According to her, a committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit had already approved
the list of these historical sites. [Source: The Nation]

UNESCO: B2m help for ancient sites

30 Nov 2011 - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has offered a grant of US$72,000 (about 2.16
million baht) to assist in the restoration of flood-hit historical sites in Ayutthaya, Fine Arts Department director-general Somsuda Leeyavanich said on
Wednesday. UNESCO also sent four foreign experts - two from Japan, and one each from Holland and Italy - who inspected the damage to the
500-year-old Pom Petch fort and other flood-damaged sites in Ayutthaya Historic Park on Wednesday. The experts will come up with restoration
guidelines for each ancient site and jointly work out a plan to strengthen the structures of historical sites to withstand future flooding, said the
department chief. A meeting will be held on Friday at the Fine Arts Department to discuss the guidelines and solutions for each ancient site, she
added. The department chief expressed concern over the humidity at flood-hit historical sites that has caused fungi to damage the structures. More
than 130 historical sites in the province had been inundated during the flooding. The restoration work would cost at least 600 million baht, she said.
UNESCO will study the results of the survey and will consider additional financial assistance if proposed by the government, she said. [Source:
Bangkok Post - Writer: Sunthon Pongpao]

UNESCO assessing flood-affected Ayutthaya World Heritage site

30 Nov 2011 - International experts head to Ayutthaya heritage site for three-day mission to survey the site in order to understand the extent of
damage ... UNESCO water specialists and experts from four countries are now surveying the Ancient City of Ayutthaya in Thailand to assess the
impact to the World Heritage property from the country's most disastrous flooding in decades. Yesterday, international experts from Italy, Japan,
Netherlands and Thailand headed to Ayutthaya for a three-day mission to survey the site in order to understand the extent of damage and develop
further recommendations for a short and long term restoration plan to the Thai Government. This visit is the first international expert mission to
Thailand on the restoration of
Ayutthaya Historical Park and cultural monuments in Ayutthaya. High-level representatives from the Embassies of
Japan, Portugal and United States of America in Thailand also joined the trip. H.E. Mrs. Sukumol Kunplome, Thailand's Minister of Culture,
personally welcomed the international experts before their departure. "Initially, I was anxious that the loss of evidence will result in incomplete
integrity, and a restoration without sufficient budget and scientific support will certainly affect authenticity of the monuments and the sites. However,
through your kind and prompt assistance to mitigate the possible damages caused to the property, I feel very much obliged and relieved," she said.
The Minister also assured that she would do her utmost to restore the historical sites upon recommendations by the experts. According to Ministry of
Culture's Department of Fine Arts, the entire historic island of Ayutthaya and its surrounding area was submerged by the floods for over a month
since 4 October 2011. In some areas, the flood waters reached a height level of approximately 3 metres. While the water has receded in the inner
island, a number of monuments in the outer periphery remain flooded to this day. More than 100 historic monuments in and around Ayutthaya World
Heritage Site have been affected by floods. The Department's primary damage assessment reported cracks at two historical remains at the Reclining
Buddha image of
Wat Lokkaya-suttharam and Chedi Assembly (Chedi Rai) at Wat Phra Ram. It was also reported that Wall of Wat Chai
Wattanaram, Wall of Wat Mahathat and Sungharam Chedi (pagoda) have collapsed. The historic city of Ayutthaya was inscribed on the World
Heritage List in 1991. Founded c. 1350, Ayutthaya was the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. Its remains, characterized by the prang
(reliquary towers) and gigantic monasteries, give an idea of its past splendour. [ Source: http://whc.unesco.org]

UNESCO to Join Thai Government For Emergency Rehabilitation

14 Nov 2011 – Thailand is also applying for Emergency Assistance from the World Heritage Fund. Under the terms of the Fund, assistance may be
requested to undertake emergency measures or to draw up an emergency plan for the safeguarding of the property.  UNESCO has been
coordinating with international experts to provide technical assistance to the flooding situation at Ayutthaya World Heritage Property. The expert
assistance will help the Fine Arts Department with the immediate assessment and restoration effort as developing a long-term plan for mitigating
flooding impacts at the site in the future,” said Montira Horayangura Unakul, heritage expert at UNESCO Bangkok. Thailand is a member of the
World Heritage Convention since 1987. The historic city of Ayutthaya was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991. [Source: UNESCO
Bangkok Press Release No.2011]

Budget sought to repair ancient Ayutthaya sites

08 Nov 2011 - The Culture Ministry will ask the Cabinet tomorrow for an initial budget of Bt1.4 billion to rehabilitate flooded ancient sites in
Ayutthaya, especially on the city's island. UNESCO is sending international engineering experts to survey the structural integrity of the historical sites,
as they are feared at risk of collapsing from prolonged submersion. Supoj Phrommanote, director of Fine Arts Office 3, said after meeting with
Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome at the
Sam Phraya National Museum yesterday morning that most sites were severely damaged, especially
Chaiwatthanaram Temple, which was swamped by 50 centimetres of water. Other temples badly hit were Phra Si Sanphet, Phra Ram, Mahathat,
Ratburana, Langka and Khun Meeuang Jai. Repairing them would require Bt700 million to Bt800 million, so the provincial and local bodies agreed to
prioritise the key tourist attractions, including
Vihara Phramongkolbopitr and Phra Si Sanphet Temple. They should be restored in three months,
Supoj said. Anek Sihamat, deputy director-general of the Fine Arts Department, said the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organisation would send engineers from the Netherlands, Japan and India to work with the Engineering Institute of Thailand in assessing the flood
damage to the ancient sites' structure from November 27 to December 1. They will also study long-term flood solutions and assist in the renovation
plan, he added. Sukumol said the process would start with cleaning and re-landscaping. Of the initial budget, Bt600 million would go to the
restoration of 127 Ayutthaya ancient sites in one year, while the rest would go to restoration of other ancient sites, the Bunditpatanasilpa Institute, and
the ministry's Permanent Secretary's Office and Religious Affairs Department. The long-term plans will need further discussion, she said. She is
scheduled to join the launch on Thursday of the "Big Cleaning Day" campaign for World Heritage Sites. [Source: The Nation]

Ayutthaya sites will be drained as soon as risk over

18 October 2011 - The procedure of draining historic sites in Ayutthaya will begin as soon as there are no threats of further inundation, Culture
Minister Sukumol Kunplome said yesterday. The areas under focus are
Wat Chai Watthanaram and 1,810-rai palace compound that has been
named a World Heritage Site, she said. "The ministry will not wait until the floods have completely receded, but will take action as soon as there is
proof that there will be no more strong currents and peak tides," she added. Sukumol said HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had expressed
concern about the welfare of people living in the area, "especially in terms of there not being enough food or it not being extensively distributed". So
far, there are 220 heritage sites under water, including 97 in Ayutthaya and another 34 in Chiang Mai. [Source: The Nation]

Archeological experts from the Netherlands and Italy to help renovate flooded ancient sites in Thailand

12 Oct 11 - The Fine Arts Department has invited archeological experts from the Netherlands and Italy to help renovate the historic sites damaged
by the deluge. Ms. Sukumol Kunplome, Minister of Culture said that Ms. Somsuda Leyavanija, Director-General of the Fine Arts Department had
requested the cooperation from the Netherlands and Italy to send their specialists in archaeological site renovation to work with the officials from
Thailand's Fine Arts Department. Moreover, private sector was also urged to sponsor renovation expenses. Currently, the Fine Arts Department is
assessing the importance of the flood-ravaged historic sites and preparing to restore them immediately once the situation is back to normal. ...
[Source: NNT]

UNESCO extends help to World Heritage sites

11 Oct 2011 - Thailand's Fine Arts Department is prepared to ask for a financial support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organisation (Unesco), to save historical sites in Ayutthaya. Thailand eyes UNESCO support. Fine Arts Department director-general
Soamsuda Leeyawanich said that she recently received a letter from the Paris-based Unesco headquarters. Unesco stated that it is ready to help save
historical sites which are enlisted as the World Heritages. The application for the emergency funding will be filed soon to the Paris and Bangkok
offices of Unesco. Soamsuda said that she was notified by Unesco that it could immediately approved a fund worth US$75,000 or Bt2.3 million. A
group of marine archeologists are now stationed in Ayutthaya to help flood victims, and could launch an initial inspection of historical sites’ damage
soon, she added. [ Source: The Nation]

Some historical places in Ayutthaya have been saved         

10 Oct 2011 - Lieutenant General Udomdej Sitabutr, Commanding General of the First Army Area said flood barriers around Siriyalai Villa, one of
Ayutthaya historical places, had been made higher to 5.9 meters while they had also been reinforced by layers of sandbags which had been laid
around the Villa. According to the General, the water level is now at 5.71 meters and it is still under control. As for Bang Pa-in Palace, additional
heights have been added to flood walls, which are now 5.7 meters, against the current flood level of 4.54 meters. However, Ko Koet Center was not
saved in time as it had already been flooded since last night.  [Source: NNT]

Ayutthaya heritage site swamped by 2m of water

05 Oct 2011 - AYUTTHAYA : Officials struggled to drain water from World Heritage-listed Wat Chai Watthanaram after powerful overflow from
the Chao Phraya River burst through an embankment and gushed into the 500-year-old temple. The sudden surge put the temple, located on about
100 rai of land in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district, under two metres of swirling floodwater in just 10 minutes early yesterday. The Portuguese
Village, a traders' settlement during the ancient Ayutthaya Kingdom, was also badly hit. The deluge also swept past the Ban Pom-Khlong Ta Khian
road into a community behind Wat Chai Watthanaram, engulfing more than 200 homes. Most residents, many still asleep, were caught off-guard and
had to act quickly to save themselves and their belongings. Provincial officials were ordered yesterday to quickly repair the flood wall and drain the
temple grounds. Ayutthaya governor Witthaya Piewpong said he hoped this would minimise damage to the ancient site. A group of about 100 fine
arts employees who have worked to protect the temple during the flooding season for decades were saddened by the events. "We have a strong
bond with this place," said employee Samli Bamphensin, 60. "We're very sorry it has finally been submerged." The employees took turns guarding the
site around the clock and regularly checked and repaired the flood wall. However, their efforts were dashed when floodwater came bursting into their
cherished temple. The suddenness of the inundation sparked widespread speculation yesterday that Ayutthaya city centre, where the Chao Phraya,
Pasak, Lob Buri and Noi rivers merge, may no longer be able to hold back the water. However, Wim Rungwattanajinda, secretary of the Secretariat
of the Prime Minister, was quick to ease fears.
He said although all 16 districts in the province have been declared disaster zones, only three historical sites had been flooded. Besides Wat Chai
Watthanaram and the
Portuguese Village, the 500-year-old Pom Petch fort has been also been submerged by overflow from both the Chao Phraya
and Pasak rivers. It has prompted Suphot Phrommanot, director of the fine arts office in Ayutthaya, to order further reinforcement of flood walls at
Wat Thammaram, Wat Kasattrathirat and the Portuguese Village. ... [Source: Bangkok Post]

Thai floods kill 224, inundate World Heritage Site
04 October 2011 - At least 224 people have died in flooding in Thailand since mid-July and water has inundated the 400-year-old Chai Wattanaram
temple in the ancient city of Ayutthaya, a World Heritage Site, officials said Tuesday. The temple is by the Chao Phraya river, which flows down to
the capital, Bangkok, around 105 km (65 miles) to the south. "The water level is now up to 1.5 meters and 150 soldiers are deployed in the area to
fix the embankment," said Wittaya Pewpong, governor of Ayutthaya province. He said more than 200 of the 500 ancient temples in the province had
been affected by floods. Thailand has been hit by massive flooding caused by a tropical storm followed by seasonal monsoon rains, which usually fall
from August to October. Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome put the damage to historical sites around the country at least 100 million baht ($3.2
million). Flooding has also affected Bangkok, which sits only two meters above sea level. The Chao Phraya river has overflowed into roads in some
areas, although the authorities have reinforced its banks to prevent serious flooding. Several trains to the north had been suspended because of the
flooding, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said. Nearly 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) of farmland was under water and
the Meteorological Department has warned of more heavy rain in many parts of the country over the next few days. Continued... [Source: Reuters]

Historic Ayutthaya temple inundated; villagers evacuted

04 Oct 2011 - Waters of Thailand's Chao Phraya River flooded into a historic temple in the former capital of Siam at around 6am this morning
breaching a makeshift sandbag dyke, flooding the temple and its adjacent areas and forcing an urgent evacuation of villagers living near the temple.
Ayutthaya Governor Witthaya Pewpong and Fine Arts Office 3 Director Supoj Phrommanote inspected the scene but could not yet reclaim the
historic site as the water is still high and strong currents are passing through. The governor said the authorities planned to build a temporary dyke
along the Ban Pom - Klong Takiean Road and then pump water out of the temple and its grounds. It was expected that by 6pm,
Wat
Chaiwatthanaram, one of the most imposing of Thailand's historic Buddhist monasteries, would return to normal. However, he expressed worry over
the continued rising of Chao Phraya River which is likely to worsen the threat to Thailand's historic heartland. Some 400 households reportedly
evacuated after floodwater poured into Wat Chaiwatthanaram at about dawn today. [Source: MCOT online news]

Floods hit Ayutthaya’s UNESCO sites

4 Oct 2011 – The UNESCO World Heritage site, Wat Chaiwatthanaram and surrounding historical buildings including an ancient fortress, were hit
by floods after an embankment collapsed in Ayutthaya town Tuesday morning. The temple lies on the west bank of Chao Phraya River in Ayutthaya
and has been threatened by floods and heavy rains for months, but the temporary mud and sand bag barriers, some three metres high, collapsed
under the weight and power of the river in full flood. Officials said the three-metre high sandbag barriers had failed to protect the 500-year historical
area of the city that was one of Thailand’s first UNESCO World Heritage sites. The surging waters submerged
Phet Fortress (Pom Phet) on Monday
despite efforts by 100 staff from the Fine Art Department to save the historical complex. Tour operators have postponed tours to the ancient city until
further notice. However officials said they are hopeful that the surge of water, mostly run-off from dams up-stream will recede later this evening. But
the damage has been done to UNESCO sites with at least one ancient chedi collapsing under the force of flood water. [Source: http://www.ttrweekly.
com by Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit]

Historical fort flooded in Ayutthaya

3 Oct 2011 - Two-metre sandbag barriers have failed to protect a 500-year-old fortress in Ayutthaya from rising flood waters, reports said on
Monday. The surging waters had entered
Phet Fortress (Pom Phet) even as more than 100 staff from the Fine Arts Department were urgently
stacking up more sandbags and draining water from the old site. An official at Pom Phet said the barriers were destroyed by strong water currents
caused by boats. The water level was this morning above one metre in Ayutthaya's Muang district. [Source: Bangkok Post]

High culture goes high tech

21 Sep 2011 - Tuned in to museum: The Kingdom of Ayutthaya was founded in 1351 by Phra Chao U-Thong, who ascended the throne as King
Ramathibodi I. The King of Siam resided and ruled here for 417 years. During this period, Ayutthaya thrived and developed into a great centre of
regional and international trade. The cosmopolitan island city was criss-crossed by canals, earning it the nickname 'Venice of the East'. In addition to
Thai, the population included Chinese, Mon, Khmer, Malays, Indians and Persians. Outside the city to the south were the trading posts or 'factories'
of foreign companies - the Dutch English, French, and Japanese.'' That is an initial part of the audio description that museum-goers listen to via a
headphone at the
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, Ayutthaya. The cultural museum is where visitors can appreciate the historical and cultural
heritage of the Kingdom, such as a rich collection of Buddha images from different regions of the country, and architectural fragments. This is the first
museum in Thailand where RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, developed by Nectec, helps visitors have an enjoyable and enriching
experience. All visitors receive a RFID-embedded wristband and headphones at the information counter, which then guides them through the
antiquities recovered from Ayutthaya and surrounding areas. From section to section, you have to move your wrist so the wristband can receive a
signal, and the audio description plays on your headphones.
The museum displays about 2,400 pieces in three separate buildings. Another 22,000 pieces are stored in the reserve collection. However, the RFID
wristband is limited to five sections. The first one is the map introducing Ayutthaya at the main exhibition hall, the second and third are on the relics of
the Buddha along with gold inscriptions and other precious objects from Wat Mahathat. The fourth and fifth sections display artifacts from Wat
Rajaburana, which includes an astonishing array of gold and gem-studded golden flasks, headgear, bracelets and an opulent golden sword sheath.
The many small plaques of the Buddha are masterpieces. The RFID technology, available in Thai and English, also serves the museum administrator
as a vital tool in managing antiques and objet d'art more efficiently and also keeps a record of the number of visitors. The Ministry of Culture has
plans to extend the RFID-embedded guides tour to other museums around the country. [Source: Bangkok Post by Sasiwimon Boonruang - part of
article]

Cultural and tourist sites on new app

1
3 Sep 2011 - A computer app developed under a Culture Ministry initiative featuring Thai culture and tourist sites is now available for upload for
iPhone and iPad users, Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome said yesterday. After downloading the unnamed app from www.mculture.in.th, users can
access more than 5,000 features in categories such as: Thai people and local organisations relating to local cultures; cultural plays and items; Thai
folklore and ways of life, and landmark locations, she said. "This app is the first released by a government agency," she said. No details were
available on whether the app will also be made available on other operating systems aside from Apple devices like iPhone and iPad. The app was
developed jointly by the ministry's Centre for Information Technology and Communications and the National Electronics and Computer Technology
Centre (Nectec). All items under the One Tambon One Product scheme will be soon uploaded to the app. Speaking at yesterday's announcement,
Science Minister Plodprasob Surassawadee said the app was developed under an agreement between the two ministries aimed at promoting and
preserving Thai culture. "There are three projects associated with the app underway: an electronic library to mirror custody of the national
Chao Sam
Phraya museum in Ayutthaya; a library of virtual 3D Thai classical music, and a communal database of all Thai culture." [Source: The Nation]

Rare manuscript found in France

10 Sep 2011 - An original scripture of Trai Phoom Phra Ruang, a version published during the Ayuthaya period (13501767) relying on a historic tale
describing about the Earth, Heaven and Hell composed originally in 1345 during the Sukhothai Kingdom, is in custody of the national archive in Paris,
according to a senior Fine Arts Department official. The discovery has altered Thai historians' belief that there were only pictorial documents about
the Trai Phoom Phra Ruang tale made during Ayutthaya but the scripture found in the French national archive proved otherwise. The scripture has
been copied with permission of the Paris archieve and been currently studied by Thai experts.
Trai Phoom Phra Ruang was composed at intiative of King Phaya Lithai, or Phra Maha Thammaracha I, who reigned between (1347 - 1368). It
depicts three afterlife Lands where people go to. Hell is part of the first Land which includes Earth, Heaven is the second and Brahma is the third.
People are reborn until they give up all their passions, and stay as eternal being in Nirvana. The one found in Paris also contains a story "Phra Malai" -
an Arhat Buddhist monk who roams between the three Lands and tells of good or bad karmas of people, in addition to the Trai Phoom Phra Ruang
tale. A total of 1,000 copies of the scripture in Paris will be made and given to schools and libraries, in addition to electronic downloadable version
which will be posted online. [Source: The Nation]

Historical sites in Ayutthaya under close watch

04 Sep 2011 - The Fine Arts Department is keeping a close watch on historical sites in flood-torn provinces as the flooding is still far from over. For
the time being, officials have placed sand bags to protect ancient temples from floods. Heavy floods have wreaked havoc in Sukhothai, Phichit,
Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan, Ang Thong, Ayutthaya, Chainat and Ubon Ratchathani provinces. Meanwhile, the Religious Affairs Department has
reported that more than 150 Buddhist temples have been affected by the inundation. The situation in Bang Ban Distrcit in Ayutthaya is the most
worrisome. Donations for these temples can be made at the Department of Religious Affairs. Prime Minister's Office Minister MD Surawit
Khonsomboon is due to visit flood-torn areas in Ayutthaya on September 8. [Source: NNT]

Culture Min to inspect ancient sites after floods

15 Aug 2011 – The Ministry of Culture is prepared to inspect ancient sites in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai provinces after they were recently affected by
floods while reports only suggested slight damages so far. In the wake of the recent floods in many provinces, Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome
stated that the Department of Fine Arts had found limited damages on ancient sites in the affected areas thus far. As the water level was reportedly
receding, the Minister announced that she would soon pay a visit to the
Ayutthaya Historical Park in Ayutthaya and other important sites in Sukhothai
in order to follow up the flood situation and the effort to protect the local heritages from being submerged. Meanwhile, Director-General of the Fine
Arts Department Somsuda Leeyavanich confirmed that the disaster had incurred only a small extent of destruction on ancient remains, for example,
two ancient kilns at the Si Satchanalai Historical Park in Sukhothai. The Director-General said a thorough damage assessment would be carried out
after the floodwater had completely drained out. As for
Chaiwattanaram Temple and Pom Phet Fortress in Ayutthaya, Ms Somsuda expressed no
worries over their conditions as the water in the area was currently only one meter high and flood walls had already been erected beforehand.
[Sourcs: NTT]

Temples battle dark times

10 Feb 2011 - The chronic palm oil shortage is affecting merit-making attempts by worshippers who traditionally light lanterns as part of their rituals.
Boonnam Satthasri, 65, a staff member at
Wat Tha Ka Rong in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district, said the temple now has to reuse oil several
times. Normally, the temple reuses the oil only once or twice, because after that it turns dark. The reused oil is filtered through a sponge that absorbs
residue to help reduce the effect."Then we refill the oil, so the merit-makers can complete their rituals," he said. Mr Boonnam said the shortage is
critical and the price of a 20-litre container has jumped from 700 baht to 1,000 baht. Normally, the temple uses about 100 litres of oil a week. The
amount doubles during religious holidays.
The practice of lighting lanterns is based on the belief that it dispels darkness and illuminates the path to wisdom. Waraporn Sappuech, 28, a staff
member at the well known
Wat Phananchoeng Worawiharn, said she has noticed a change in a common practice of merit-makers. "They usually
bring with them a small bottle of cooking oil, but I don't see it happen that often [since the palm oil shortage took hold]," she said. Many merit-makers
now use the reused cooking oil prepared by the temple to light the lanterns. "They don't mind the dark colour. They understand the need," she said.
Phra Khru Praditkijjarak, abbot of
Wat Ratchapradit, said cooking oil was once among the gifts donated to the temple for lighting lanterns. "Before
this, we had all sizes _ small bottles, big bottles, or in large containers. But people don't do that any more," he said. Wat Bang Nom Kho in Sena
district has suspended the ritual of lighting oil lanterns for almost a year. Phra Dol Chotiyano, a monk at the temple, said merit-makers are asked to
light candles instead. He also said the temple has been encouraging merit-makers to give away dhamma books, which is another route to gaining
insight. "If those who read the books understand it, then the lanterns [in their minds] have been lit," he said. [Source: Bangkok Post - by Sunthon
Pongpao]