How did the largest city in the pre-industrial world function? What was Khmer society like during the ‘golden age’ of Angkor? How did this civilisation falter and fade?
Time period covered: 1100 - 1431
Lachlan begins this episode with a discussion of one of the most impressive and famous examples of Khmer architecture; Angkor Wat. The details of this building, and what it meant for the civilisation that could build it, is explained. We also learn about the life and times of Jayavarman VII, widely recognised as the ‘greatest’ of the Devaraja who lead the Khmer to conquer the greatest extent of territory and build some of its most iconic temples.
Zhou Daguan, a Chinese diplomat who visited the region, is discussed as he gives a rare insight into the lives and culture of the Khmer at Angkor somewhere near it's peak. But changes would soon follow. But rather than using words like 'collapse', 'decline' or 'fall' to describe this period of Khmer civilisation, it may be more accurate to term this process as the 'transformation' of a society. The reasons for this transformation, ranging from climate change to religion are discussed.
David Chandler A History of Cambodia
Zhou Daguan The Customs of Cambodia
BBC, ‘Jungle Atlantis: Angkor Wat’s Hidden Megacity’ 2014
Virtual Angkor Project https://www.virtualangkor.com