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Native Nameបុរន្ទរបុរៈ
TypeAncient City
Part ofAngkor
ProvinceSiem Reap
Coordinates13.43285, 103.76250
FoundedLate 7th - Early 8th Century
BuilderJayavarman I
Art StylePrei Khmeng
DeityVishnu, Shiva
UNESCO Inscription1992

9999 Purandarapura 2.jpg
(one vote)

Site Size & Condition: Ancient City Purandarapura (បុរន្ទរបុរៈ - Pronounced: Por-andara-poora)

As with many pre-Angkorian cities, historians are still involved in active debate over Purandarapura's precise location. However, Jayavarman I's late 7th-century capital is far from the most controversial site and - with a few exceptions - the majority of archaeologists concur with a Siem Reap Province location, in the general area of the huge reservoir known today as the West Baray, (Baray Toek Thla}. (What are, in our opinion, wilder suggestions include Prei Veng, Takeo and Kampong Thom.)

Jayavarman I's origins are unclear but he does appear to have been a descendant of Isanavarman and is a likely suspect for the addition of later structures at Isanapura - Sambor Prei Kuk. However, many inscriptions relating to his reign originate from southern Cambodia and his relationship to Funan and role in its absorption by Chenla is also unknown. Historians suggest conflict with 'Java' during this period which may refer to nearby Champa, the powerful Srivijaya state, or the expansive Saliendra dynasty of Java itself. A more secure location could plausibly have been a motivation for a move to the Siem Reap area.

Constructed in the 11th-century the huge Western reservoir may well have destroyed many remnants of Jayavarman I's city; extensive vestiges have been found under the baray's west section, Prasat Ak Yum was sited on the new southern embankment itself and suffered damage, while a causeway linking Ak Yum - the possible state temple - with Prasat Kok Po, directly north, was submerged under the waters.

The city corresponds to the Prei Khmeng architectural period and would have included Prasat Prei Khmeng (Boeng Khnar) itself, (just to the west of the baray), as well as aforementioned Ak Yum, Kok Po and smaller ruins and brick mounds in the same area such as Prasat Phnom Rong. Jayavarman I is generally thought to have died around 780 after which inscriptions mention an important city, or capital, known as Aninditapura. Again, suggestions cover everywhere from Takeo to Battambang, but a similar West Baray-Puok location appears to us more logical. If so, then the city's relationship to Purandarapura - if any - is unknown while it is conceivable that it was a new name for the same site. The arrival on the scene of Jayavarman II, in the late 8th-century, shifted the focus east of present-day Siem Reap and the new capital of Hariharalaya.

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