National Geographic : 1989 Jul
GEOJULY 1989 GEOGRAPHICA NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Restoring the Splendor of Angkor Wat estoration is under way at Angkor Wat (above), the largest and fin est temple in the complex of Kampuchean monuments erected by Khmer kings at Angkor between the 9th and 13th centuries. French archaeologists, who had worked for decades at Angkor, were forced to leave in 1972 when the Viet nam War spilled across the border into Kampuchea, then known as Cambo dia. In 1981 a visiting NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC team found minor damage caused by gunfire during the previous violent decade, structural decay, and some vandalism (GEOGRAPHIC, May 1982). But the main problem was neglect. In 1986 the Archaeological Survey of India began a six-year restoration proj ect at Angkor Wat under an agreement between India and Kampuchea. A Polish team will also begin work on another temple, the Bayon, this year. Though many who fear for Angkor's future would like to see a larger multi national effort, there is relief that work is being done at all. Part of the restoration involves replacing stones in Angkor Wat's East Gallery, which contains a magnificent bas-relief depicting a Hindu creation myth. David Feingold, an anthro pologist on assignment for National PANJAR,INDIA TODAY/SIPA Geographic EXPLORER television, says that the Indians are temporarily dismantling part of the temple to pre vent it from collapsing and also remov ing lichens that eat away at the stone. A UNESCO exhibit of Angkor pho tographs by the GEOGRAPHIC team con tinues to tour worldwide. It has been seen in New York City at the United Nations and in Austria, France, Spain, and Korea. JAMESE. FAHEY World War I Memories Live in French Caves Early in 1918 New England's 26th Division was sent to northern France. Its members literally left a mark that lasted long after World War I ended. The 26th, known as the Yankee Division, was deployed along the Chemin des Dames (Ladies' Road), an area that included many caves. Some were so large that troops actually lived in them; one unit's history called the caves "snug and cozy retreats... a safe haven from shell fire and after doorways were made tight with heavy curtains... immune to gas." The caves were rediscovered in 1980. Explorers found that American doughboys, like the French, British, and German troops that had also used them, had carved initials, names, addresses, unit designations, mottoes, and patriotic, fraternal, and religious symbols in the soft limestone walls. James E. Fahey, a Natick, Massachu setts, military archivist who is docu menting the cave inscriptions, is working to make the area a memorial to the Yankee Division. One name on a cave wall was "W. D. Bertini, Compass #9, Wallingford, Conn., K, 102nd Inf." Fahey called Wallingford and reached Luke Bertini. Yes, he said, his late father, who was 22 years old in 1918, talked often of serv ing along the Chemin des Dames. Disease Still Killing Mexico's Palm Trees "F or the immediate future, pros pects are bleak," Randolph E. McCoy wrote about an outbreak on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula of a palm-tree disease called lethal yellow ing (GEOGRAPHIC, July 1988). "Mil lions of producing coconut palms will die before the epidemic runs its course." The prediction of McCoy, a plant pathologist and expert on palm diseases, has proved grimly accurate despite attempts to treat the infection with antibiotics. Lethal yellowing (LY) has spread southward along the Caribbean coast almost to Mexico's border with Belize. Unlike areas affected earlier, which contained primarily small coconut farms, the newly stricken region is a major commercial production zone. "It's wreaking havoc there," Dr. Manuel Robert of Yucatan's Center for Scientific Investigation told McCoy recently. LY has also spread westward through the state of Yucatan to Telchac Puerto, 35 miles northeast of Merida. Its effect there is "overwhelming," Robert said. And, evidencing the disease's disdain for borders, it has leapfrogged Belize and Guatemala to attack coconut palms in Honduras.