Fall of Angkor (03:37)
In this video series, Patrick Boucheron will examine the impact of specific dates in history. No one knows for certain when, why, or if the Angkor Empire collapsed. During the 19th century, Henri Mouhot discovered ruins while chasing butterflies in Indochine.
Rise and Fall of an Empire (03:05)
Several hundred temples stretch across an archeological park. Tourists travel to Angkor Wat at daybreak. Nature is slowly taking back control of the ruins.
Finding Historical Clues (04:47)
No written sources exist, because palm leaves only last a hundred years. The monuments provide some historical insight through epigraphy. The French School of the Far East collects inscriptions; Eric Bourdonneau studies foundation stills that commemorate a temple's construction.
Saga of an Empire (03:53)
Thousands of soldiers accompanied the king of the Khmer Empire to war against Cham and Ayutthaya tribes. Construction of the temples spread across seven centuries; each king produced his own. The Kbal Spean, originating in the Phnom Kulen, provided irrigation across Angkor.
End of the Khmer Empire (07:22)
The last Sanskrit inscription details the succession of Jayavarmadiparamesvara in 1327. Historians estimate the Angkor Empire died out in 1431. Boucheron suggests the town transitioned out of inscriptions and began using wood for sculpture.
World Events (03:36)
Other events include Joan of Arc burning at the stake, the Great Council of Basal, Islam spreading, Zheng He traveling along East Africa, and the Aztec Empire rising in prominence. The Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975; the regime destroyed ancient manuscripts and burned down the School of the Far East.
Credits: 1431: Fall of the Angkor Empire (00:23)
Credits: 1431: Fall of the Angkor Empire
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