- Sun Tzu
The Angkor Civilization marked the golden era in Cambodian history due to its architectural and cultural supremacy, its territorial expanse and its wealth. It started in 802AD and lasted until the 15th century leaving a legacy of architectural masterpieces in the world, the temples of Angkor. The capital of the Khmer empire, Angkor, was the largest urban aglomeration in history prior to the industrial revolution and supported up to one million inhabitants. This was possible thanks to complex systems of infrastructure, irrigation and agriculture.
In 802AD Jayavarman II returned to its home at Chenla Kingdom, and after few military campaigns he declared himself universal monarch in the Mount Kulen, commencing thus the Khmer empire. His successors gradually annexed territories and as the empire gathered wealth the architectural manifestations became more magnificent. The building projects commenced with King Indravarman I (877 - 899AD), who built Bakong, Preah Koh and the eastern Baray. His son, Yasovarman I (889 - 915AD) established the first capital of Angkor, Yasodharapura. At the beginning of the 10th century the empire was divided when the allegedly usurper Jayavarman IV established a new capital at Koh Ker.
His nephew, King Rajendravarman II (944 - 968 AD) restored the capital at Yasodharapura and built East Mebon and Pre Rup temples. After his death his son Javayarman V accessed the throne and under his rule new temples such as Banteay Srei and Ta Keo were built. The period that follows is a succession of short reigns and internal struggles for power unti King Suryavarman I (1010 - 1050AD) gained the throne. Under this monarch the Khmer empire reached its greatest territorial expansion. The next king that provided stability for the kingdom was Suryavarman II, famous for building Angkor Wat and for his successful incursions against the Chams.
The last great king of Angkor, Jayavarman II (1181 - 1220AD) defeated the Chams and undertook the largest construction project, building not only Angkor Thom, but roads, bridges, resthouses and monuments. After his death the empire began to decline and was severely undermined by Thai invasions in the 14th century. Battles continued for another century until the final siege in 1431 that brought the abandonment of Angkor and the end of the Angkor civilization.
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