In the late sixteenth century, Portuguese missionaries in Cambodia reported a great, lost city in the jungle, with four massive gateways, bridges flanked by giant stone figures, and a gilded temple at the center. For four centuries since then, Angkor has inspired awe in visitors from around the world, but only now are its origins and history becoming clear. Dr. Charles Higham (University of Otago, New Zealand), principal investigator of the Earthwatch Origins of Angkor project, has published a comprehensive history of the remarkable civilization that built Angkor.
The Civilization of Angkor draws from Higham’s own archaeological research in Thailand and Cambodia, as well as the latest research in epigraphy and art history, to trace local history from the Bronze Age to the abandonment of Angkor. He looks closely at the importance of agriculture and trading in the development of city-states, and the chain of dynasties at the peek of Angkor power. Contrary to common belief, Higham finds that the influence of Indian culture is not as important as indigenous roots to the illustrious civilization. The Civilization of Angkor is a fascinating journey into Southeast Asia’s distant past and an important addition to our understanding of the rise and fall of civilizations.
The Civilization of Angkor. Charles Higham. University of California Press, 2001.