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
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
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
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.