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
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
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
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
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.