Sep 18, 2008

Khmer Empire

Cambodia Timeline
  • AD100 - AD600: The Kingdom of Funan that rules over a vast land of Indo China and part of now South East Asia covers part of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the whole Cambodia.
  • AD600 - AD800: The Kingdom of Chenla still rules part of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the whole Cambodia.
  • AD800 - AD 1400: The Kingdom and Khmer Empire. The Kingdom starts to crumble thereafter AD 800. The peripheral areas of the Kingdom falls into the hands of the Thais invading from the West and the North and the Vietnamese from the East.
  • AD1400 - 1860: The erosion of the Khmer Empire. More and more peripheral lands are occupied by the Thais and the Vietnamese.
  • 1860 - 1953: The French colonize Indochina and rule Cambodia as protectorate.
  • 1953: Cambodia gains independence from France.
  • 1975: Cambodia falls into Communism ruled by Khmer Rouge supported by China
  • 1979: Cambodia is invaded by Vietnamese that in turn drive Khmer Rouge regime out of power.
  • 1991: Cambodia holds a democratic election administered by the United Nations.
The Rise and the Fall of Angkor
  • AD900 - AD1200: The development of the City of Angkor
  • AD1200 - AD1400: The Decline of Angkor and Khmer Empire
  • AD1400 - 1860: The Khmer Empire is in disarray. The peripheral land of the empire is lost to the invading Thais from the West and the Vietnamese from the East.

Angkor Wat temple: Built in 12th century during the reign of King Suryavarman II (1112-1150), dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu. Angkor Wat temple is the main feature of Cambodia tourism, the all-time visited temple among hundreds of Khmer temple ruins.

Angkor, the capital of Khmer empire from 9th to 13th century, ruled a vast territory that is now Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. During these periods, the Khmers build hundreds of temples and Buddhist monasteries through out Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Despite of Angkor temples are seen sprawling over the hundreds of historical sites in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, the main temples featuring Angkor civilization and political culture involving administration and power are located in Siem Reap province. These temple ruins converge in an area of 400 square kilometers just north of Siem Reap town and Tonley Sap lake.

The Decline of Khmer Kingdom Power
Angkor began in 819 A.D. when King Jayavarman II (802-850) moved a Khmer settlement to Siem Reap province and the settlement became an administrative centre of Khmer empire. During the reign of King Suryavarman II (1113-1150), in which Angkor Wat temple was built, the Chams from Champa from the East (now Vietnam) began armed incursions and sacked Angkor. Following the death of King Suryavarman II and the Cham invasion, Angkor is invaded and ransacked by the Thais, based in western part of the Khmer Empire. These Thai army forces had been employed by the Khmer King to repel the Cham invaders. Thereafter, again and again, the Chams and the Thais invaded and ransacked Angkor.

King Jayavarman VII (1181-1215) who built Angkor Thom fought and repelled the invading Chams and the Thais. The glory of Khmers and Angkor was again restored but the it was short lived. The Empire began to crumble after the death of King Jayavarman VII. The Thais from the west and the invaders from the East, this time the Vietnamese, frequently carried out armed incursions and invaded Angkor and the Khmer Empire's peripheral territory was gradually lost. After the capture of Angkor by the Thais in 1431, Khmers moved their capital from Angkor to Phnom Penh leaving Angkor unoccupied to the mercy of the jungles. From the early 15th century until the late 19th century, the Buddhist monks lived in Angkor and made Angkor the largest religious pilgrimage site in South East Asia.

The Angkor Restoration
The loss of Khmer territory continued until 1863 when France established a colonial regime that ruled Cambodia until 1953. Angkor ruins were discovered by a French researcher in 1920 and thereafter a comprehensive program of Angkor restoration and archeological research sponsored by the French government began. The restoration program was halted in late 1960's during a political upheaval and civil war in Cambodia. During the war, Angkor suffered heavy damages and wide-spread lootings. The temples, artifacts, statues, and other sculptures were either broken or stolen.

The civil war eventually ended in early 1990's and the restoration program of Angkor re-started. This time, the program is sponsored by an international agency UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). Angkor is again opened to the world. Now streams of visitors from around the world are irresistibly drawn to this great city of Angkor ruins to marvel its breathtaking beauty.

Reigns of Khmer Kings: 8th century to early 14th century
King Reign
Jayavarman II 802-850
Jayavarman III 850-877
Indravarman I 877-889
Yasovarman I 889-910
Harshvarman I 910-923
Isanavarman II 923-928
Jayavarman IV 928-942
Harshavarman II 942-944
Rejendravarman 944-968
Jayavarman V 968-1001
Udayadityavarman 1001-1002
Suryavarman I 1002-1050
Udayadityavar II 1050-1066
Harshavarman III 1066-1080
Jayavarman VI 1080-1108
Dharanindravarman I 1180-1112
Suryavarman II 1112-1150
Dharanindravarmen II 1150-1181
Jayavarman VII 1180-1220
Indarvarman II 1220-1243
Jayavarmand VIII 1243-1295
Indravarman III 1295-1308

Source and reference: Encyclopedia Americana 2002 edition, the World Book Encyclopedia 1999 edition, the Hidden Glories (1990) by Michael Freeman & Roger Warner, Cambodia Handbook 1997 by John Colet & Joshua Eliot, Indochina: Social and Cultural Change 1994 by David W.P. Elliott, the World Book Encyclopedia 1999 edition, Wikipedia Media Encyclopedia.