The Khmer Empire

Clare Tedesco

Who is the Khmer Empire?

The Khmer Empire was located in what is now known as, Southern Cambodia. Known for its beautiful stone temples dedicated to the Hindu gods and its advanced engineering, this amazing civilization collapsed after its long run from the 9th century through the 15th century. The empire's capital, Angkor, has been seen as one of the largest pre-industrial city complexes in the world and was home to over 750,000 people. Like the Mayans, this remarkable civilization was well-adjusted to the everyday struggles of living in the tropics. They were able to build large stone buildings throughout their capital to praise their Hindu gods and allow for spiritual guidance. They were also able to develop a sustainable source of water. With this water along with the removal of many trees they formed a surplus of food that was able to feed their rapidly expanding empire. This expanding empire, though successful, it faced hundreds of years of war, trying to take over new territory with neighboring societies.

Why did the Khmer Empire Collapse?

Though the Empire was successful in many different aspects, the global climate change along with new religious influences and the continuous fighting with it’s neighboring regions, it ultimately divided the empire and led to its inevitable collapse.

Global Climate Change

Angkor’s ability to sustain a water source using reservoirs made out of stone is one of the many reasons the empire was able to continue its reign but they relied solely on the seasonal monsoons and the help of gravity to provide for them. This dependence on the weather, contributed to the fall of the empire, as it was their only source of water. When the weather started to change, the area would go months or even seasons without any precipitation. This caused the reservoirs to dry up and crops to die. severe droughts were held across the land and Widespread famine spread across the empire. The south started to hoard rice while the north starved and the division of the empire began. With this, many other problems started to arise.

New Religions

During times of trouble, the people in Angkor used to believe that their leaders would go to the fountains that were built after gods and pray for water. When the water would spout out of the god’s mouth, their prayers were answered. This gave the people faith in their leaders. When the droughts came, and there was no water coming out of the fountains, the people started to loose faith in their leaders and in their religion. Some people started to believed that the reason they were not getting water out of the fountains was because the leaders, who were supposed to be the most connected to the gods, weren’t praying to them anymore and that the leaders had done something to upset them. Others believed that if there was not water coming out of the fountains and that the leaders were still praying then there must be not any gods to answer their prayers for water. Either opinion that the people felt led to a disturbance with in their religious society. When new ideas started to spread, one of those being Theravada Buddhism, people started to look at their leaders in a new light. This new religion started to spread the ideas of social equality throughout the empire. Eventually all of these doubts of the government led to social chaos within the empire.

Khmer vs. Champa

Since the beginning of the Khmer empire, there has been a long going feud between their neighboring empire Champa. As Khmers land became riddled with drought they fought for more suitable land by the Champa empire sparking old issues and going into yet another war. The war did not help Khmer as it had little resources as it and they didn’t need to extra expense for paying for an army. This left little food for an already starving empire as the armies needs came first. This weekend the army and gave other empires an opportune moments to attack leaving Khmer defenseless.

Works Cited

Works Cited

Clare Tedesco

"Angkor Wat." Image. Corel. World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 4 Mar. 2014.

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"Khmer Empire." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Apr. 2014. Web. 05 Mar. 2014. *Used for images only*

"Khmer-Cham Wars." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 4 Mar. 2014.

Plubins, Rodrigo Q. "Khmer Empire." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited, 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.

Stone, Richard. "National Geographic Magazine -" National Geographic Magazine - National Geographic Society, July 2009. Web. 04 Mar. 2014. This article is a valid and reliable source. It comes from a website that is not only know for being one of the longest running sources of information but also the most valid. The website reads "The National Geographic Society has been inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888. It is one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, and the promotion of environmental and historical conservation." Furthermore, the author is to biased toward one idea. He has his own thesis but gives examples throughout the article that express other possibilities of collapse.

Wall, Tim. "Khmer, Like Mayans, Fell Under the Weather." DNews. Discovery Communications, 5 Jan. 2012. Web. 04 Mar. 2014. This is a very valid source. It is off a reliable website know for delivering fast and accurate news. The author is a very experienced person and has studied all over the world. He also made sure to give credit where credit is do at the bottom. The author does have a specific point of view about how the society collapsed but also gives other ideas as well to back up his point and to give other thesis'.