The Civilization of Angkor

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University of California Press, 2004 - 192 pages
In the late sixteenth century a mythical encounter was reported during an elephant hunt in the dense north of the Tonle Sap, or Great Lake of central Cambodia. King Satha of Cambodia and his retainers were beating a path through the undergrowth when they were halted by stone giants and a massive wall. The King, the fable reported, ordered six thousand men to clear away the forest overgrowth around the wall, thereby exposing the city of Angkor--"lost" for over a century.

Subsequent reports from Portuguese missionaries described its five gateways, with bridges flanked by stone figures leading across a moat. There were idols covered in gold, inscriptions, fountains, canals, and a "temple with five towers, called Angor." For four centuries, this huge complex has inspired awe among visitors from all over the world, but only now are its origins and history becoming clear.

This book begins with the development of the prehistoric communities of the area and draws on the author's recent excavations to portray the rich and expansive chiefdoms that existed at the dawn of civilization. It covers the origins of early states, up to the establishment, zenith, and decline of this extraordinary civilization, whose most impressive achievement was the construction of the gilded temple mausoleum of Angkor Wat in the twelfth century, allegedly by 70,000 people.

Drawing on the latest research on prehistoric archaeology, epigraphy, and art history, Charles Higham has written a clear and concise history of this remarkable civilization.



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About the author (2004)

Charles Higham has been active in archaeological research in Southeast Asia since 1969. He has published a series of final excavation reports and is the author of four major syntheses of the region's prehistory, The Archaeology of Mainland Southeast Asia, The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia, Early Cultures of Southeast Asia, and Prehistoric Thailand (written with Rachanie Thosarat). He is a Fellow of the British Academy, James Cook Fellow at the University of Otago in New Zealand, and visiting scholar at St. Catharine's College, Cambridge.

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