Angkor Wat archaeological digs yield new clues to its civilization's decline

phys.org | 6/16/2019 | Staff
tiazanne (Posted by) Level 3
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Cambodia's famous temple of Angkor Wat is one of the world's largest religious monuments, visited by over 2 million tourists each year.

It was built in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II, one of the most famous kings of the Angkorian civilization that lasted from approximately the ninth to 15th centuries. The structure is so strongly associated with Cambodian identity even today that it appears on the nation's flag.

Years - Historians - Collapse - Angkor - Civilization

For many years, historians placed the collapse of the Angkor civilization in 1431, when Angkor's capital city was sacked by the Thai Kingdom of Ayutthaya and abandoned. The idea that the Angkorian capital was abandoned also played a part in the 19th-century colonial interpretation of Angkor as a civilization forgotten by the Cambodians and left to decay in the jungle. Many tourists still come to Angkor Wat with an outdated romanticized notion of a deserted ruin emerging from the mysterious jungle.

But scholars have long argued against this interpretation, and archaeological evidence is shedding even more light on the decline of the Angkorian civilization. The process was much longer and more complex than previously imagined; Angkor's collapse may be better described as a transformation.

Events - Temple - Archaeologists - Microcosm - Transformations

By looking at the events associated with this one particular temple, archaeologists like me are able to see a microcosm of some of the broader regional transformations that took place across Angkor.

What happened to the Angkor civilization?

Researchers - Angkor - Civilization - AD - Heartland

Researchers believe the Angkor civilization was established in A.D. 802. Its heartland and capital city was on the banks of the Tonle Sap Lake in northwest Cambodia. The Angkorian state was founded and grew during a period of favorable climate with abundant rainfall. At its height, Angkorian rulers might have controlled a large portion of mainland Southeast Asia.

The Angkor civilization was booming in the early 1100s when construction began on the Angkor Wat...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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