Environmental Change at Angkor, Cambodia

Established by the Khmer Empire in 802 CE, Angkor would become the most extensive pre-industrial city in the world. Although it is best known for its architectural elements, particularly the temple Angkor Wat, Angkor’s most impressive feature is arguably its water management system. The city’s location in Cambodia meant the Khmer had to contend with the seasonal rainfall of a monsoonal climate. Their engineering skills allowed them to cope with extreme variations in water availability throughout the year. Angkor collapsed in the 15th century as a result of several factors, including war, civil unrest, ecological collapse, and drought.

Spread over an area of 1,000 km2, Angkor's hydraulic engineering network was comprised of reservoirs (barays), canals, moats, channels, ponds, and embankments. The largest of the four reservoirs constructed by the Khmer (8 km by 2 km), and the only one to still hold water today, is the West Baray.  By undertaking a multi-proxy study of a sediment core from the West Baray, I hope to understand the evolution of the baray since its construction and evaluate environmental changes at Angkor from occupation, through abandonment, to the present. This research will contribute to our understanding of the nature of the failure of the water management system and its effect on the collapse of Angkor.




Publications: 2006-Present

Last updated on 04-Jul-12 15:15