The Angkor Civilization
During the Angkor period, Cambodia was the largest, most powerful and prosperous nation in the Southeast Asia region. The Khmer civilization had reached it peak during the 9th - 13th century AD.
Evidence of its glory is can be found in the area of land covered by the Khmer Empire, which dominated almost the entirety of Indochina to the Myanmar border in the west. Thousands of Prasats (temples or monuments) were build and decorated with beautiful and priceless ancient sculpture, stunning architecture, and countless stone-inscriptions written in both Khmer and Sanskrit. Other antique items that can be found in the region include infrastructure such as Baray (ancient water reservoirs), irrigation systems, ancient highways and bridges.
All of these achievements were constructed over 800 years ago, during the peak of the Angkor Civilization.
The Angkor Wat Temple
Angkor Wat is the largest and greatest stone-structure temple in the world and took more than 30 years to build. There were 4,000 elephants and some 380,000 men are believed to have contributed their labor to this world-class project. Sandstone, the main material for the construction was transported by elephant from Kulen Mountain, some 47km away from the site.
The great temple of Angkor Wat is remarkable, not only because of its splendid architectural arrangement, but also because of the perfect subordination of the carving to the composition of the whole: the decoration is treated, nearly everywhere, as embellishment which should not hold the eye. As a result, the variety and intensity of the shadows do not break the unity of the simple walls, yet there is ornamentation everywhere - even in the least visible corners.
Angkor Wat is the masterpiece of King Suryavarman-II's crown, and is dedicated to Hinduism. It is believed to have also served as a tomb for the King Suryavarman-II (12th century AD).
Angkor Thom City
Nearby, Angkor Thom was once one of the most modern cities in the world. At one time it was populated by nearly 1,000,000 (one million) in habitants. Compare this to 30,000 people in London at around the same time (late 12th century AD). In fact, Angkor was the capital of a self-sufficient nation rich in natural resources and with unique construction techniques.
Due to the extensive and ingenious irrigation system, Angkor was able to harvest rice 3-4 times during a calendar year. Rice yields reached 150,000 metric tons within an area of 1000 sq.km; sufficient to feed 800,000 inhabitants, while still leaving 40 percent to supply other areas throughout the kingdom. It is this rice cultivation that supported the Angkor Civilization.