Category:Kampong Thom Province

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Map Keys
Large Prasat
Large Prasats
Large Ruin
Large Ruins
Medium Prasat
Medium Prasats
Ancient Bridge
Ancient Bridges
Medium Ruin
Medium Ruins
Ancient City
Ancient Cities
Medium Tuol
Medium Tuols
Ancient Kiln
Ancient Kilns
Small Prasats
Ancient Quarry
Ancient Quarries
Small Ruin
Small Ruins
Ancient Reservoir
Ancient Reservoirs
Small Tuol
Small Tuols
Ancient Village
Ancient Villages
Other Structures
Other Structures
Prehistoric Sites
Neak Ta
Neak Ta's
Unknown Sites
Unconfirmed Sites

Kampong Thom's key, central, geographical situation provides a correspondingly large number of ancient sites covering a wide timeframe, while its role as the location of the Chenla capital at Sambor Prei Kuk also means many of those sites are of crucial historical importance. While the ethnic mix of the Funan culture in the lower Mekong and Delta region is still debated, the sprawling city founded by Bhavavarman I and Mahendravarman at what is today Sambor Prei Kuk, lays a strong claim to being the cradle of Angkorian civilization. (1)

By the early 7th century these 2 rulers, along with the subsequent king Isanavarman I, had already marked out what was to become the core of the empire for the following 600 years.

Despite the profusion of ancient sites - a considerable number of which are still standing - our listings are very much confined to certain clusters and strings within the modern-day province. A wide strip to the north of the Tonle Sap is devoid of any sites and was clearly unsuitable to either habitation or agriculture, as indeed it remains today. Much of the north and east are also infertile and sparsely populated. As the district of Prasat Sambour - which houses the early capital - is today low-yield agricultural land with poor soils, a certain degree of climate change over the last 1500 years must be assumed for the site to have been selected as the Chenla capital.

Nonetheless, fertile land probably didn't extend much further north in the 7th century than it does today and so the majority of sites are restricted to a narrow east-west band on either side of modern-day Highway 6. This was clearly also the principal transport and communications route in ancient times as it is today and features a series of significant clusters presumably representative of a string of important settlements. Existent hinterland sites also align closely to ancient routes with a south-north link connecting to the important later site of Prasat Preah Khan (Kampong Svay) in the western part of the province and the Sen Valley route leading northeast from Sambor. This eventually connects to Champassak (and Wat Phu), in southern Laos and was undoubtedly the more important ancient road in early times.

(1) While archaeological opinion concurs that the bulk of the population of the Funan region was ethnic Khmer or Mon-Khmer, DNA research at burial sites imply that at least the ruling classes may have been of Austronesian descent (as with the Chams to the north) although this is still a hotly debated and, for obvious reasons, highly sensitive subject.


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Pages in category "Kampong Thom Province"

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