14 March 2007 (News.com.au) – This isn’t exactly new news, because I posted something about this last year. Nonetheless, the story seems timely over the recent hype of climate change from Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth.
City ‘killed by climate change’
Climate change was a key factor in the abandonment of Cambodia’s ancient city of Angkor, Australian archaeologists said today.
The city, home to more than 700,000 people and capital of the Khmer empire from about 900AD, was mysteriously abandoned about 500 years ago.
It has long been believed the Khmers deserted the city after a Thai army ransacked it, but University of Sydney archaeologists working at the site say a water crisis was the real reason it was left to crumble.
“It now appears the city was abandoned during the transition from the medieval warm period to the little ice age,” Associate Professor of Archaeology Roland Fletcher said.
Prof Fletcher said that to sustain a population of 750,000, the Khmers had a meticulously organised water management system.
But blockages found in two large structures that controlled the water system in central Angkor suggested the network had begun to break down late in the city’s history.
Prof Fletcher said the discoveries complemented previous field work that had led his team to conclude the city was abandoned when new monsoon patterns, brought about by climate change, had made the site unsustainable.
– Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past: Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists by E. A. Bacus, I. Glover and V. C. Pigott (Eds)