In early 2013 I was lucky enough to experience the site of Ban Non Wat through my university. I was using some of the artefacts found here as a part of my honours thesis so I had to go over and do some research. The time I was there was the same time as one round of Earthwatch volunteers so I got to experience the site like the volunteers would.
The field school is run by Earthwatch and Nigel Chang, of James Cook University, who is currently the lead archaeologist on this project. Chang’s research is not under the title Origins of Angkor, but as this was the title of the first series of excavations held at Ban Non Wat, by Charles Higham, that is what this program is called. Research students from James Cook Uni and other universities across the world head to northeast Thailand every January/February to carry out their research. Earthwatch gives any adult over the age of 18 the chance to take part in the excavation, survey and analysis techniques performed at this project.
As an Earthwatch volunteer you are picked up in Bangkok at the Maruay Garden Hotel at around 1:30 p.m on a Monday. The program cost includes this travel fee as well as accommodation and food which means you do not have to worry about having money on hand to pay for food. Programs go for two weeks during which time you will stay at the Phimai Inn Hotel in northeast Thailand which means you have enough time to get to know the area and the locals. Local transport is used to get around, local food is provided, and locals are employed on the site. The excavation is very community orientated and will aid in giving you the most authentic experience of Thailand. Volunteers aid the researchers and are likely changed around at least once to get different experiences which means you will go home with archaeological research knowledge and skills. On the last day you will be transferred back to Bangkok, either to the Maruay Garden Hotel or the airport.
During the days off (Mondays) day trips can be organised to go to some of the sites in northeast Thailand.
This is a sandstone quarry we visited at Ben Morjabok, Amphoe Sikhiu, Changwat Nakorn Ratchisima. Stone from this quarry was used in from the 9th-13th C. CE to build Khmer temples.
This is the Khao Chan-Ngam Cave site of rock art. The art is about 3000 years old and there are many shrines set up around the area. It is a very serene and beautiful place.
The following link is to the 2014 briefing for the project – it rarely changes much so anyone interested later years would be able to use this as a guide.
The Ban Non Wat website is also a good place for info.
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