Groslier's thesis on Angkor's fall gains credence

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04 September 2007 (University of New South Wales) – 50 years ago, French archaeologist Bernard-Philippe Groslier’s theorised that Angkor’s sudden abandonment was due to a massive failure in the city’s water management system. The theory was not widely accepted due to lack of empirical evidence, but the map of Angkor’s spawl that broke two weeks ago has made it timely to give Groslier’s theory another relook.

Architects of Angkor’s downfall

The architects of Cambodia’s famed Angkor – the world’s most extensive medieval “hydraulic city” – unwittingly engineered its environmental collapse, says research by UNSW scientists and a team of international scholars.

This revelation, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, supports a disputed hypothesis by French archaeologist Bernard-Philippe Groslier, who 50 years ago suggested that the vast medieval settlement of Angkor was defined, sustained, and ultimately overwhelmed by over-exploitation and the environmental impacts of a complex water-management network.

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