SOAS University of London

History of Art and Archaeology

Mrs Sonetra Seng

BA (Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh); MA (SOAS)
  • Research


Sonetra Seng
Mrs Sonetra Seng
Email address:
Thesis title:
Beyond the Masterpiece: Function and Design of Divine Adornment in Angkorian Cambodia (9th-14th c.).
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


As an employee of the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts SENG Sonetra served as Acting Dean and Lecturer of the Department of Archaeology, Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh before undertaking the MA programme in History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS University of London in 2018-19. She received SOAS Alphawood Scholarships for both MA and PhD study. She has conducted a number of archaeological excavations of prehistoric sites in Cambodia under the cooperation between the Memot Centre for Archaeology, University of Tuebingen and the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), including at the village 10.8 and Prohear sites in southeastern Cambodia, and has co-authored a series of books and articles in this field. She has also acted as Curator of the Memot Archaeological Museum, Cambodia, and directed a training-oriented metal laboratory in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. 

PhD Research

SENG Sonetra's research examines the adornment of dive figures in Angkorian period Cambodia (9th-14th c.). The material focus is on sculpted stone representation of textiles and jewelry, along with a corpus of actual jewelry and limited remains of textiles. Epigraphic sources and other archaeological data are also explored to contextualise commission, production and use. Comparative study with wood and metal sculpture further informs the work. Building on extant stylistic analyses of the art historical materials largely confined to aesthetic considerations and harnessed to periodisation, the research also considers local social, political and economic factors shaping quality and design. These factors are likewise taken to inform analyses of function of adornment in both religious and non-religious contexts. Limited comparative work across the South and Southeast Asian region, to examine trade networks, shared forms including patterns, and related functions, is also envisaged.


  • 04-09 November 2019: The 7th ASEAN Traditional Textiles Symposium: Embracing changes, honoring traditions, Yogyakarta.
  • 15-19 July 2019: The 11th International Convention of Southeast Asia Scholars, Leiden.


  • Department of Archaeology, Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh


  • Ancient Southeast Asian textiles and jewelry
  • The Iron Age in Cambodia