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The Pre - Angkor Period

The Kingdom of Funan

People of Indo - China

The Kingdom of Kambuja

At the end of the ice age (c. 12,000BC) the Indo-Chinese region is firstly inhabited by Australoid peoples. The land bridges between Malaya, the Indonesian islands and Australia are submerged. Various population groups migrate through southeast Asia. The Mon-Khmer people gradually settle in the lands which later become the kingdoms of Funan and Chenla and they become the dominant tribes in the area.

Geography Of Indo - China

The Indo-Chinese region today comprises the countries of Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. It is made up of large fertile plains which lies around two rivers, the Mekong and the Tonle Sap. The land is settled by various tribes who develop the independent kingdoms.

c. 4000BC - AD100 Settlements are formed throughout the Indo-China region. The major cultural influences on the region are from China and India.

The Kingdom Of Funan

 The area of present - day Cambodia was already inhabited in the 3rd millennium B.C but it was not documented historically until the beginning of the Christian era, where there rose up a kingdom that Chinese chronicles describe as Funan, from the Khmer word Phnom means Mountain. The foundation of Funan may be ascribed to a certain Kaundinya or Hun Tien who , inspired by a dream, presumably went from the India to Kambuja or Cambodia, where he married Soma or Liu Yeh, a local princess who was one of the Nagas, mythical beings that were part dragon ( Neang Neak ).

The son of Soma and Kaundinya was supposedly the founder of the first Kaundinya dynasty of Funan Empire. In the 5th-century a second Kaundinya arrived from India to revive the Indianized customs that had gone by the wayside, and beginning with King Kaundinya Jayavarman ( c 478 - 514 ) the rulers of Funan became more defined in a historical sense. Vyadhapura, their capital, is considered by some scholars to have stood at the foot of Ba Phnom in Takeo province at present-day. In AD 514 Rudravarman ascended the throne and chose Angkor Borei as his capital, where he probably lived until after AD539. In the most distinguished artistic production in this period is sculpture,which was part of the so-called Phnom Da = Phnom Da Mountain at Takeo province in the present-day. c AD 540 - 600 , named after the sacred rise near Angkor Borei, south of Phnom Penh city at the present day. For the most part the sculpture works, in sandstone, consist of portraits of Vishnu and figures connected to him, since Vishnuism must have been the religion of the sovereigns however. One of the 8 arm Vishnu statues is a good preserved in Phnom Penh museum that took it from Phnom Da temple. Shivaism is documented by numerous Lingas or Lingams, and this period witnessed the first representations of Harihara , half Shiva god and half Vishnu god. However, the architecture and fillets that support the head and arms of the portraits betray the lack of confidence the sculptors had in the stability of their work. The first statues of Buddha make their appearance in this period.

Chenla or Zhenla and The First Khmer Kingdoms

The Khmers, who were probably vasals of Funan or Nokor Phnom, came from the upper course of the Menam River and had reached the Mekong River via the Mun River Valley. Their first independent principality developed in the 5th-century, north of Tonle Sap lake: the Chinese accounts call this kingdom Zhenla and also mention the kings Shrutavarman and Shreshthavarman, whose capital Shreshthapura must have been in southern Laos. A major influence on the future history Cambodia was wrought by the Khmer kingdom of Bhavapura, in the area of present-day Kampong Thom province: its most important sovereign, Ishanavarman I, completed the conquest of  Funan in AD 612 - 628 and chose Sambo Prei Kuk as his capital, renaming it Ishanapura in the center of Cambodia at the present-day. After some turmoil, Jayavarman I regained control of the kingdom in 657, but upon his death after the year 700 the kingdom broke up into numerous principalities, among which there emerged that of Shambhupura capital on the the Mekong River whose ruler King Pushkaraksha proclaimed himself king of all Kambuja in 716. According to the Chinese chronicles,in the early 8th century there were two Chenlas, a land Zhenla or upper Chenla and a water Chenla or lower Chenla : the former was united and centered around the ancient territories of Chenla, while the latter consisted of several in the area that once constituted Funan. The son of king Pushkarakasha, Shambhuvarman, and his heir, Rajendravarman I, maintained control over most of lower Chenla up to the end of the 8th center, when the Malayans and Javanese gained dominion over many Khmer prrincipalities. Artistic styles are ascribed to this period, the first of which , the Sambor Prei Kuk ( 600 - 650 ) , was named after the capital of Bhavapura, north of Kampong Thom province and ( 160 km ) southeast of Angkor Wat temple at the present-day. The foundation for future Khmer architecture in Angkor.

The Angkor Period
The Center Of The Khmer Empire or Kambuja Empire
AD802 - 1431
After the many wars, Lower Chenla and Upper Chenla, King Jayavarman II united the Kambuja. The 9th century witnessed the rise of Angkor art and architectures. The history of the capital - Nagara in Sanskrit, from which the Khmer word Nokor, Thai word Nakorn, France and English words Angkor derived - began with the grandiose consecration ritual of King Jayavarman II ( 790 - 850 ) in 802 on the holy Kulen Mountain to celebrate the independence of Kambuja or Cambodia from Javanese army occupation. That year marked the inauguration of the cult of Devaraja, the `God King` who was the terrestrial ruler with universal power.

Prepared by

Sowanna Yun , English and Thai Speaking Guide in Cambodia


A Short History Of The Khmer Ruling Kings In Angkor Empire

Ruler                      Dates               The Reign

1. Jayavarman II            c790 - 850           The founder of the Khmer Empire at mount Mahendra in the Kulen Mount. Later moved the capital to Hariharalaya.

2. Jayavarman III           c 850 - 877          Built the laterite pyramid of Prei Monti and Trapeang Phong temple.

3. Indravarman I            c 877 - 889          Succeeded probably by force. Built Bakong temple in sanstone, Preah Ko temple and Intratataka Baray = reservoir.

4. Yasovarman I             c 889 - 915          Son of Indravarman I moved the capital city from Hariharalaya to Angkor ( Yasodharapura ). Built Lolei temple at Hariharalaya, then at Angkor built Phnom Bakheng temple, Prasat Bei temple, Thma Bay Kaek, Phnom Krom, Phnom Bok temples and East Baray = East reservoir.

5. Harshavarman I         c 915 - 923           Succeeded to the throne very young: little known. Built Baksei Chamkrong temple and Kravan temple.

6. Isanavarman II          c 923 - 928           Very little known about this short reign. No building known.

7. Jayavarman IV           c 928 - 941           Revolted against his nephew Harshavarman II in 921: moved the capital to Koh Ker and built a hundred temples there.

8. Harshavarman II        c 941 - 944           Successor at Koh Ker

9. Rajendravarman II     c 944 - 968           Moved the city back to Angkor. Successful war against the Chams. Built East Mebon temple, Pre Rup temple, Bat Chum temple, Kutisvara temple and the beginning of Banteay Srei temple and added to others.

10. Jayavarman V           c 968 - 1001        Succeeded to the throne as child, a peaceful reign. Built Takeo temple and continue to build Banteay Srei temple with his counsellors and added to others.

11. Udayadityavarman I    c 1001 - 1002   A period of troubles and revolt.

12. Jayaviravarman           c 1002 - 1010   Competes with Suryavarman I for the throne during a 9 - year struggle, but defeated. Built North Khleang temple and added to others.

13. Suryavarman I           c 1002 - 1050     Tooke the throne by force, becoming undisputed ruler by 1010. Expanded the empire to the north and west. Built South Khleang, Phimeanakas temples, Royal palace in the Angkor Thom city, West Baray, Preah Vihear and Phnom Chiso temples and added to others.

14. Udayadityavarman II  c 1050 - 1066     More revolts, Expanded the empire further west. Continued to build the West Baray from his father, built the Baphuon and west Mebon temples and added to others.

15. Harshavarman III       c 1066 - 1080     Devastation from the previous reign`s troubles and a new war with Chams prevented new buildings.

16. Jayavarman VI           c 1081 - 1107    First King from the Mahidharapura dynasty, his authority probably recognised only in the north.

17. Dharanindravarman I   c 1107 - 1112    Younger brother of Jayavarman VI . Killed by Suryavarman II who disputed the throne.

18. Suryavarman II          c 1113 - 1150      Ambitious, war-like and a great builder. Expanded the empire , fought the Dai Viet, Chams, Mons, and built Angkor Wat temple, Banteay Samre temple, Beng Mealea temple, Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda temple and added to others in Thailand.

19. Yasovarman II         c 1150 - 1165     Chosen to succeeded because the heir was fighting in Champa. Killed by a usurper. No new building but continued work at Chau Say Tevoda, Banteay Samre and Beng Mealea temples. Added tower to Bakong temple.

20. Tribhuvanadityavarman   c 1165 - 1177    Usurper, killed during the 1177, Chams invasion and burned the Yasodharapura - Angkor.

21. Jayavarman VII      c 1180 - 1220        Legitimate heir of Dharanindravarman II. Expelled the Cham army. The last great Khmer king, a fervent Buddhist and builder on the largest scale. Preah Khan Kampong Svay temple, Tonle Bati temple, Taprohm temple, Preah Khan temple, Neak Pean temple, Ta Som temple, Ta Nei temple, Prasat Chrung temples, Angkor Thom city, Elephant & Leper King Terraces, Krol Ko temple, Banteay Kdei temple, Banteay Thom temple, Banteay Prei temple, Preah Pithu group temple, Preah Palilay temple, Jayatataka Baray and added to others in Thailand nowadays.

22. Indravarman II             c 1220 - 1243     Begginnings of the decline of the empire. Champa abandoned, Sukhothai independent. Built Prasat Suor Prat, 12 temples. Thai had started to create the kingdom.

23. Jayavarman VIII        c 1243 -  1296    Empire continued to dimish; Lopburi having to submit to Kublai Khan. Shivaite resurgence. Built Mangalartha or Prasat Top temples along the way of victory gate of Angkor Thom and probably restored Preah Palilay temple. Mangalartha is probably the last temple in Angkor Empire.

More information , Please come and pick up our services. You will not be disappointed in visiting Cambodia. More details with Sowanna Yun, an experienced guide over 12 years in history and culture E-mail :  sowanna012@yahoo.com

24. Srindravarman       c 1296 - 1307        The reign and daily life described by Zhou Daguan, the visiting Chinese diplomat. Stopped to build the sandstone building, probably wooden building for holy places.

25. Srindrajayavarman   c 1307 - 1327     Little known about the reign, I will try to find more documents to explain you.

26. Jayavarmandiparamesvara or Jayavarman Paramesvara   c 1327 ?  The last king mentioned in inscriptions.

- In 1328 onward , no inscriptions to tell us as well.

27. Paramathakemaraja    c 1330 - 1353

28. Hou-eul Na                  c 1353 - 1371 ?    ; Wooden building for holy places.

- No inscriptions tell us as well in  1371/2 - 1403

29. Samtac Chao Phaya & Phing  Ya    c 1404 - 1405

30. Nippean Bat          c 1405 - 1409

31. Lampong or Lampang Paramaja   c 1409 - 1416

32. Sorijovong or Lambang        c 1416 - 1425

33. Barom Racha                        c 1425 - 1429

34. Thommo Soccorach or Dharmasoka   c 1429 - 1431

The Last King Of Angkor Empire ; Ponha Yat or Gam Yat in c 1432, he decided to move his court to Tuol Basan, in the province of Kampong Cham at the present day, on the eastern side of the Mekong river just above the forks. After remaining there only a year, he moved his capital again in c 1434, this time to Krong Chatomuka ( four faces ) at the junction of the Tonle Mekong river.

Phnom Penh city by King Ponha Yat in c 1433/4


If you have any information that you feel should be included or not. I would like to hear from you with any suggestions or recommendations. ( Mr. Sowanna Yun : sowanna012@yahoo.com   ).

Mysteries, Legends And Anecdotes


For hundreds of years, the lost city of Angkor was itself a legend. Cambodian peasants living on the edge of the thick jungle around the Tonle Sap lake reported findings which puzzled the French colonialists who arrived in Indo-China in the 1860s. The peasants said they had found "temples built by gods or by giants." Their stories were casually dismissed as folktales by the pragmatic Europeans. Yet some did believe that there really was a lost city of a Cambodian empire which had once been powerful and wealthy, but had crumbled many years before.Henri Mahout's discovery of the Angkor temples in 1860 opened up this `lost city' to the world.


 The legend became fact and a stream of explorers, historians and archaeologists came to Angkor to explain the meaning of these vast buildings. The earliest of these scholars could not believe that Angkor had been built by the Cambodian people, believing the temples to have been built by another race who had conquered and occupied Cambodia maybe 2,000 years before. Gradually, some of the mysteries were explained, the Sanskrit inscriptions deciphered and the history of Angkor slowly pieced together, mainly by French scholars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Legends still remain. This once great city which had slept for so long still posed many questions.


The beginning of French involvement in Cambodia is to be found in the eighteenth century under Cambodian King DUANG'S reign in 1840-1859. King Duang sought the French support in an attempt to protect Cambodia and to establish trading. The King saw French Expansion into Vietnam as an opportunity for the king to regain territory that Cambodia had lost to the Vietnam is 21 provinces in the south of Vietnam today, KAMPUCHEA KROM or Lower Cambodia . The French interest in Cambodia deepened with its involvement began to rule and colonial on Cambodia in 1863-1953. And transferred or ceded or cut  Cambodian territory ( Kampuchea Krom or Khmer Krom = Lower Cambodia or Lower Khmer to Vietman on June 4, 1949 ) When they withdraw their troop from Asia without discussing with Cambodian King. This below is Lower Cambodian Map. More Info.:




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Cambodia Critical Period (15th - 18th century)

Until the middle of 15th century, the whole Khmer Kingdom was at war. The invasion of Ayutthaya Kingdom, Dai Viet, and Toungoo brought Khmer Kingdom to its knees. Now Ayutthaya Kingdom evolved into Thailand, Dai Viet evolved into Vietnam and Toungoo evolved into Myanmar. The huge waves led by the three enemies devastated the whole area and close to destroy the kingdom. However the Khmer Kingdom still could detain its identity and its culture. For four centuries, after the kingdom was slowly destroyed and abandoned Angkor, there is very little information related to the critical period. It still remains to be the dark side in Cambodia's history now.

French Colonization Period (1863-1953)

It caused Cambodian people 90 years living under French colonization. French accepted the request asked by The King Norodom Sihanouk to protect Cambodia from the invader Thai and Vietnam. The weak kingdom was protected by the powerful country French and it could stop the war between Cambodia and the two invaders. Even the war stopped but it didn't mean Cambodia was in peace, Cambodia needed to face with new enemy which was French.

Sangkum Reastr Niyum Period (People's Socialist Community) (1953-1970)

The king Norodom Sihanouk resigned his throne in favor of his father to gain a full-time political career. He formed his own political party which was known as Sangkum Reastr Niyum or People's Socialist Community. Election in 1955 and became the first Prime minister of Cambodia.

Khmer Republic Period (1970-1975)

In March, General Lon Nol leaded a coup successfully and deposed Sihanouk. This time Cambodia stood in United Stated side and sent troops to fight communist Vietnamese. But with his poor equipments, his troop lost to North Vietnam army.

Democratic Kampuchea Period (1975-1979)

On 17 April 1975, the government of Lon Nol finally reached its ending and was overthrown by Pol Pot. They immediately captured Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. They forced people to leave the city and walk on their foot to countryside for agricultural task. At that time they claimed Cambodia as a Democratic Kampuchea, which put Cambodia away from international relationship. To ensured that their Democratic Kampuchea, Pol Pot saw every well educated people as their enemies. Teachers, students, former officers, soldiers and other well educated people were killed during the four years under Khmer Rouge regime. They changed all previous institutions and established a new one. Their objective was to teach everyone to use guns including young teenagers. During the four years under Khmer Rouge control, everything was destroyed but the most shocking result 1.7 million deaths by killing and starvation.

New Born Cambodia (1979-Present)

After the fall of Pol Pot's Regime, the civil war still happened in the country and the new form government led by Vietnam must fight with the remain troops of khmer Rouge, meanwhile, develop the country. In 1989, Vietnam troops withdrawn from Cambodia.
In 1993, UN led the government to form a new constitution restoring the monarchy and naming the Kingdom of Cambodia. Norodom Sihanouk is the king of Cambodia. In May 1993, the first ever general election sponsored by UNTAC brought Cambodia as a real democracy country. The result was that FUNCINPEC won most seats while CPP was the second. The result was not satisfying the CPP leader Hun Sen. It came out with a three coalition form a government with 2 Prime Minister. Prince Norodom Ranariddh from FUNCINPEC was the first Prime Minister and Hun Sen from CPP was the second Prime Minister.
In 2005 King Norodom Sihanouk resigned from his throne and was replaced by his son, Norodom Sihamoni. His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni is the son of His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk and of Her Majesty Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk of Cambodia.

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