Archive for the ‘Khmer’ Category

Northeast Thailand

August 5, 2008

Northeast Thailand, Isan, is mostly on the flat part of the Korat Plateau. Two bits of information that came my way last week got me thinking about the area in the times of the Khmer Empire. One was a rough map of known Khmer ruins on the plateau and the other was a UK TV program talking about the distances between early English market towns. These were fairly repeatable with a plus and minus of about 30%.

Is it possible that could work out a distance like this on the Khmer settlements on the plateau? In other words, fill in the gaps between known settlements with new discoveries. It’s an interesting thought. If the distance was about a day’s march that would be a good start. Of course the difference between England and Isan is that the area has been under tropical jungle and then ploughed up for agriculture rather than the fairly constant settlements of the English countryside.




Coins and History

July 10, 2008

While wondering around an old market outside Bangkok we found a seller of religious amulets and old coins. The coins were interesting because he had arranged them in sequence and the earliest, before Dvaravati, were from the Funan Empire. Taking it that they were found in Thailand it does begin to give a sense of who controlled parts of Thailand in the first few centuries AD. We know the Mons were here very early but we do not know for sure the people who were under the influence of Funan back then. In fact the ethnic make up of the Funanese people themselves is in doubt. We can guess they might have been an early Khmer nation. They were centered in present day Vietnam and Cambodia. “Money makes the world go round” maybe, but it certainly hints at influence in these early times.

Preah Vihear Dispute Heats Up

July 8, 2008

As with the previous post politics gets involved with history again. This time, although the question being argued over is sovereignty over the Preah Vihear Khmer temple site, the politics is much to do with an internal factional fight in Thailand.

In the end the sovereignty of the site isn’t going to change any time soon and getting the site listed with UNESCO may help its preservation and increase tourism to the area on both sides of the border.  The problem is that playing the nationality card works well on both sides of the border.

There is a good overview of the problem from the Thai perspective on the SEAArch taken from a Bangkok Post article here.

About turn again on Preah Vihear

May 8, 2008

An update to the last post. Thailand and Cambodia are in agreement and friendly again regarding the UNESCO listing of the border temple at Preah Vihear. See the post here.

Preah Vihear

Not such good news on Preah Vihear

May 2, 2008

In March it looked like the Thai and Cambodian governments were getting closer to a settlement on access to the Preah Vihear temple complex. At the end of April UNESCO announced that scheduled talks between the two sides were off. A disagreement had arisen over Cambodian troops being on the site so everything is put back for now.

Khmer Style Prang

March 25, 2008

I just found on the internet a picture of that prang I saw as per the previous post. Compare it with the Wat Arun picture.

Khmer Style Prang

The Size of the Khmer Empire

March 25, 2008

On Saturday we were driving to the southwest, just outside Bangkok and came upon a temple at the end of a road. Although most of the temple was fairly recent, there was an ancient prang or stupa very much in the Khmer style as you see at Wat Arun in Bangkok. Although it doesn’t mean it was built while under Khmer control it did make me look up how far their empire stretched. It made it as far south as the Kra Peninsula and west as far as the town of Lopburi so at one time this area would have been theirs.

Below is a picture of Wat Arun from Wikipedia showing the Khmer style prangs.

Wat Arun

Preah Vihear dispute nears settlement

March 20, 2008

This news is a bit old but shows that the dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple site might be nearing a settlement.

 The temple called Prasat Preah Vihear is on the border with Cambodia, inside Cambodian territory, although easy access is from the Thai side. According to Wikipedia the earliest temple use of the site dates to the early 9th. Century although the earliest remaining buildings are 100 years later.

 This dates to a pre-Tai settlement period when Khmer and Mon ethnic groups would have controlled present day Thailand.