[Paper] Geoarchaeological evidence from Angkor, Cambodia, reveals a gradual decline rather than a catastrophic 15th-century collapse

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Angkor Wat. Stock photo from Shutterstock/Intarapong
Angkor Wat. Stock photo from Shutterstock/Intarapong
Angkor Wat. Stock photo from Shutterstock/Intarapong

From PNAS, 25 Feb 2019 with links to news stories below: Analyzing sediment cores from Angkor reveal that the decline of Angkor took place over a long period of time, rather than a dramatic “fall“.

Geoarchaeological evidence from Angkor, Cambodia, reveals a gradual decline rather than a catastrophic 15th-century collapse

Alternative models exist for the movement of large urban populations following the 15th-century CE abandonment of Angkor, Cambodia. One model emphasizes an urban diaspora following the implosion of state control in the capital related, in part, to hydroclimatic variability. An alternative model suggests a more complex picture and a gradual rather than catastrophic demographic movement. No decisive empirical data exist to distinguish between these two competing models. Here we show that the intensity of land use within the economic and administrative core of the city began to decline more than one century before the Ayutthayan invasion that conventionally marks the end of the Angkor Period. Using paleobotanical and stratigraphic data derived from radiometrically dated sediment cores extracted from the 12th-century walled city of Angkor Thom, we show that indicia for burning, forest disturbance, and soil erosion all decline as early as the first decades of the 14th century CE, and that the moat of Angkor Thom was no longer being maintained by the end of the 14th century. These data indicate a protracted decline in occupation within the economic and administrative core of the city, rather than an abrupt demographic collapse, suggesting the focus of power began to shift to urban centers outside of the capital during the 14th century.

Source: Geoarchaeological evidence from Angkor, Cambodia, reveals a gradual decline rather than a catastrophic 15th-century collapse | PNAS

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[Lecture] Examination of Ancient Khmer Defensive Warfare Practices by Paul T. Carter

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Lecture at the Siam Society, Bangkok on 8 November 2018

Examination of Ancient Khmer Defensive Warfare Practices by Paul T. Carter

DATE: Thursday, 8 November 2018
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
PLACE: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

Did ancient Khmer kings, particularly during the Classic Angkor period, neglect key defensive warfare principles which neighboring civilizations, less powerful and grand than Angkor, practiced centuries earlier? The lecturer argues that while Khmer kings displayed very capable offensive warfare capabilities, they did indeed ignore basic defensive warfare tenets which largely rendered them militarily defenseless. This does not argue that the neglect of defensive warfare principles caused the collapse of the empire, nor that its key rulers, such as Jayavarman VII, completely ignored the defense of Angkor. His construction of Angkor Thom, with its significant walled and moat barriers, certainly illustrates some regard for defense. Neither does this suggest the employment of robust defensive principles would have saved Angkor from potentially debilitating societal changes that affected kings’ ability to respond to threats. The preponderance of available evidence does suggest, however, that at no time did Angkor’s kings conduct key defensive warfare practices that other civilizations used centuries earlier. Such neglect placed the Khmer army at a significant disadvantage against the larger, attacking Ayutthaya Army in 1431, and made it unnecessarily vulnerable to any future enemies. This lecture demonstrates how Khmer kings ignored fundamental defensive warfare techniques. Next, that the Khmers would have been aware of these techniques earlier civilizations had practiced. Finally, it examines possible reasons for such neglect which leads to a broader discussion of Angkor civilization.

Tourist falls in Angkor Wat, evacuated to Bangkok

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A Chinese tourist had to be evacuated to Bangkok after suffering serious injuries from a fall at Angkor Wat this week.

Tourist Rushed to Bangkok After Falling From Siem Reap Temple
Cambodia Daily, 03 February 2015

A Chinese tourist visiting Angkor Wat was rushed to a Bangkok hospital on Saturday after falling off a staircase at the temple complex in Siem Reap City while taking photos of the iconic monument, officials said Monday.

Chau Sun Kerya, spokeswoman for the Apsara Authority—the government body that oversees the Angkor Archaeological Park—said Chinese national Zhou Wei, 45, fell about 2 meters to the ground from a staircase adjoining the east face of Angkor Wat’s main temple.

“No one at the time knew how he had fallen, but when [onlookers] saw him lying on the ground, everyone rushed to help him,” Ms. Sun Kerya said.

She added that the man was first taken to Royal Angkor International Hospital in Siem Reap, where doctors decided that Mr. Zhou’s injuries were too serious to be treated locally and transferred him to a hospital in Bangkok.

Full story here.

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500th anniversary of the Fall of Malacca

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In 1511 the Portuguese led by Alfonso de Albequerque captured the city of Malacca, signalling the fall of the Malacca Sultanate and the first foothold of Europeans into Southeast Asia. This feature from The Star of Malaysia commemorates the capture of Malacca 500 years ago.

Porta de Santiago (Famosa) サンチャゴ砦
photo credit: ssr.ist4u

500 years on [Link no longer active]
The Star, 27 November 2011
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