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The beginning of the Khmer or Angkor civilization takes place during the period from 802 to 1431 A.D.. Il stretched, then its apogee, up to the Thailand-Burma border in the West and Wat Phou of Laos in the North.

It appeared owing to the ancient Khmer rulers who strengthened unity between peoples with a good political doctrine and the development of an intelligent irrigation system who allowed to control water of the Mekong River for agricultures and so to work out its prosperity. Then it were slowly deteriorated during five century. Of this Khmer Civilization, it left some fabulous and exceptionals monuments (like Angkor Wat and Bayon Khmers temples), some numerous sculptures.

The word " Angkor " is derived Sanskrit (an ancient Indian language), of " Nagara " which means " City ". Angkor Wat literally means " City of Temple " and Angkor Thom " The Magnificent City ".

The ancient Khmers were great masters of stone carving and we can see the evidences of various Angkor temples who extended on the large plain of Siem Reap up to outside of Cambodian border to the Preah Vihear at Dangrek mountain, Phnomrung and Phimai in Thailand and Wat Phu in Laos. These temples were make up patiently during centuries by Khmer artisans. This expect a main energy to realize such efforts as a long time, in contradiction with the normal and easy life of the Khmer people and villagers of their time.

For historians and archaeologists, it is not easy to do the detailed study of Khmer civilization. Most of the writing, found after the excavation of Angkor, were carved in the stones, who became the best support against time wear. They are important evidences to understand the basic constituency of Khmer society and its chronology. They relate principally religious rituals, king's praise and literatue of Indian epics of " Ramayana " and " Mahabharata ". There is not much things on the subject of the ordinary life of the local people.

It is owing to a Chinese Ambassador, Zhou Daguan in the middle of 13th century during the Chinese dinasty Yuan, who traveled to Angkor, lived with peoples and explored the empire during one year, that we learn more things about Khmer civilization. He writed very clearly and vividly how people were live in the khmer society in this period.

Angkor Wat represent center of Khmer civilization. It is situated on the plain of Siem Reap province north of the Great Lake of Tonle Sap.

All along Khmer history, the throne were often desire, which involved some violent bloodshed. Differents successive kings build each one a different capital, alls in the Angkor Wat and Ruolos sector, with some names like Hariharata, Yasodharapura, Jayendanagari, Angkor Thom and a lot of others unknown names.

Much temples like Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom represent incontestably the relics of the past Khmer Civilization.

In the Khmer society, hierarchy include above the God-King, surrounded by brahmins tutors and the members of his royal family. The priests who live in the temples were also powerful and contoled their own lands and paddy fields.

The names of donors were written in the stone, on the temples and we learn that they were allowed noblemen or high dignitary responsible for the administrative and judiciary tasks, how that may be, all this wasn't very precise for historians, it is so difficult to drow up a complete list of the Angkor Empire hierarchy.

The Khmer Civilization economy was based principally on agriculture, the majority of people was farmers or peasants and some of the less wealthy of them was fastened to large landowners or of the temples.

The lowest hierarchy of the Khmer Civilization was reserved to slaves who beloyed at temples, which we found the majority of the names inscribed on the stone. Their names was keeped in a holy place, what who let think they could not have been the low class slaves as its word " slave " implied. For historians they were only temples servants and priests were " Gods slaves " and not to any human being. In fact, slaves were mostly captured in the neighboring countries, but Khmer people themselves could fall in the lowest status and being a " slave " if they failed to pay their rents or loans to the upper ruling class.

 

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Angkor Journey & Tours
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No. 011. River side street. Siem Reap. Cambodia

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