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Angkor Empire History


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Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/myangkorguide/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 43

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Angkor History

What is Angkor?
Founding of the Empire
Khmer Kings
Timeline of Construction
Gradual Decline

A map of the Khmer Empire at its height in 1200 AD:

Khmer Empire at its height in 1200AD

Khmer Empire at its height in 1200AD

What is Angkor?

Angkor is the region in North Western Cambodia where the ancient Khmer cities and temples can be found – the legacy of the once far-reaching Khmer Empire.

At its height, the Khmer Empire covered much of mainland south east Asia – covering large parts of what is now Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Burma, (Myanmar), and Malaysia. The actual area of Angkor is littered with some 72 major temples or other buildings spread over a region of approximately 116 square miles.

By the medieval period the region of Angkor had become the largest pre-industrial city in the world with an urban sprawl of 1,150 square miles capable of being able to support up to a million inhabitants.

Founding the Empire – Jayavarman II

The Khmer Empire is generally credited as first beginning in 802 AD when Hindu king Jayavarman II originally from Java (in what is now disputed to be either Indonesia or peninsula Malaysia) unified the region, driving out the then Javanese forces, (who he was originally part of) declaring himself to be the “universal monarch” and “god-king”.

Through a program of military campaigns, marriages, land grants and alliances, he achieved a stable central, independent power.

Khmer kings

Over the next few centuries, the Khmer empire was gradually expanded, conquering most of its lesser neighbouring states, becoming one of the regions most powerful sovereign states. Various kings added to Angkor’s temples and cities over a period of 300 years with most buildings having religious significance – Hindu and later Buddhist.

Within ancient Khmer society, it appears that there were no set guides to order of “succession to the throne” and as such there were many lasting power struggles – a Khmer Kings reign was often short and attained through bloody means. From 834 to 1309 there were 24 recorded kings.

Monarch timeline and Construction of Major projects

(834 – 1000 A.D)

- Jayavarman II (802 – 835 A.D)
- Jayavarman III (834 – 877 A.D)
- Indravarman I (877 – 889 A.D) Preah Ko, & Bakong
- Yasovarman I (889 – 910 A.D) Phnom Bakheng ,East Baray
- Harshavarman I (910 – 923 A.D)
- Isanavarman II (923 – 928 A.D)
- Jayavarman IV (928 – 941 A.D)
- Harshavarman II (941 – 944 A.D)
- Rajendravarman II (944 – 968 A.D) Pre Rup
- Jayavarman V (968 – 1000 A.D) Banteay Srei

(1000 – 1107 AD)

- Udayadityavarman I (1000 – 1002 A.D)
- Jayaviravarman (1002 – 1010 A.D)
- Suryavarman I (1010 – 1050 A.D)
- Udayadityavarman II (1050 – 1066 A.D) Baphuon, West Baray
- Harshavarman III (1066 – 1080 A.D)
- Jayavarman VI (1080 – 1107 A.D)

(1007 – 1219 AD)

- Dharanindravarman I (1107 – 1113 A.D)
- Suryavarman II (1113 – 1150 A.D) Angkor Wat,
- Dharanindravarman II (1150 – 1160 A.D)
- Yasovarman II (1160 – 1165 A.D)
- Tribhuvanadityavarman (1165 – 1181 A.D)
- Jayavarman VII (1181 – 1219 A.D) Angkor Thom, The Bayon

(1219 – 1309 AD)

- Indravarman II (1219 – 1243 A.D.)
- Jayavarman VIII (1243 – 1295 A.D.)
- Srindravarman (1295 – 1309 A.D.)

(1309 – 1431 AD)

Following this period, up until the sacking of Angkor by Thai forces in 1431 there appears to be few records of the following kings and little further grand construction work undertaken.

Reasons for Decline

This may in large be due to the conversion of Cambodia to Theravada Buddhism, thereby removing the need for large public works to house their “god kings” and the royalty losing their dedicated power base. Or perhaps due to new ways in which the Khmer wrote – changing their practice of engraving into stone, to writing on unendurable materials such as animal’s skins.