Historical information on the temples of Angkor Park originates from various sources, including writings, epigraphs, iconography, archaeology, ethnology, and language. And is only partially documented, in turn leaving us with an incomplete picture of a past which today is mainly corroborated by historical events, of which the most reliable evidence is to be found in it monuments. Based on that evidences, it is possible to trace Cambodia’s history from the first mention by the Chinese in the 1st century of the Funan Kingdom, up to the rise and fall of Chenla form the 6th to the 8th century, all the way through the glorious reign of the Khmer from the 9th to the 13th century, and to the subsequent decline of that splendid civilization in the 15th. The story of Angkor leaves us with a felling of humility and admiration as we wonder at he creative genius and artistic flair of the that highly gifted and culturally advanced civilization.
Funan and Chenla : Pre-Angkorian Period(1st – 8th century)
Though the newly Indianised princely states sometimes encompassed large areas. They were often no larger than a single fortified city. They warred among themselves , coalescing over time into a shifting set of larger states. According to the 3rd century Chinese chronicles, one of the Chinese’s principal trading partners and a dominant power in the region was the Indianised state of Funan centered today’s southern Vietnam and Cambodia. There is evidence that the Funanese spoke Mon-Khmer, strongly indicating a connection to later Angkorian and Cambodian civilization.
Funan was predominated over its smaller neighboring states, including the state of Chenla in northern of Cambodia. Over the later half of 6th century, Funan began to decline, losing its western territories. Chenla, already in the ascendant, conquered the Khmer sections of western Funan, while the Mon people won the extreme western section of Funan in present day Thailand. Later, Chenla seem to have gone on to conquer remainder land of Funan, signaling the beginning of the “Pre-Angkorian” period. Chenla Flourished for but for a short time. The third and last king of unified Chenla, Isanavarman I, constructed the Pre Angkorian temples of Sambo Prei Kuk near modern day Kompong Thom city. (If you come to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh by road, you will pass through Kompong Thom. With a few spares hours, it is possible to make a side trip to these Pre-Angkor ruins.