How did the Khmer civilisation begin? How were they able to prosper to the point of building the megacity of Angkor?
Time period covered: 2000 BC – 900 AD
In this episode, Lachlan seeks to explain the early processes that developed amongst the Khmer civilisation in and around the region that would eventually become Cambodia. This involves an explanation of the different cultural influences from India and China that would see a kind of hybridised people come to prominence on the Indochinese mainland. The story of early Funan and Chenla, as well as the development of the ‘Devaraja cult’; a system where a universal monarch is regarded as a kind of incarnation of a deity is discussed as well as the establishment of the early cities which will become the seat of the vast Khmer Empire. The ingenious methods of water management that will support the kinds of society and architecture the civilisation is famous for is also explained.
The episode ends at the reign of Suryavarman and the construction of Phnom Bakheng and the vast baray, in the era just before the ‘peak’ of the civilisation.
David Chandler A History of Cambodia