Khmer Empire.

The Khmer Empire was the largest contiguous empire of South East Asia, based in what is now Cambodia. The empire whose foundation dates back to a small kingdom of an local king, seceded from the kingdom of Chenla, at times ruled over or vassalised parts of modern-day Thailand, Laos and Southern Vietnam. During the formation of the empire, the empire had extensive cultural, political, and trade relations with Java, and later with the Srivijaya empire and Srivijayan ally, Sailendra, that lay beyond the Khmer state's southern border. Its greatest legacy is Angkor, which was the capital during the empire's zenith. Angkor bears testimony to the Khmer empire's immense power and wealth, and the variety of belief systems that it patronised over time. The empire's official religions included Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism, until Theravada Buddhism prevailed after its introduction from Sri Lanka in the 13th century. Satellite imaging reveals Angkor to have been the largest pre-industrial urban center in the world, larger than modern-day New York. The empire's legacy is still felt through the cultures of its successor Cambodia, but also the cultures of Thailand and Laos in which it greatly influenced.

The history of Angkor as the central area of settlement of the historical kingdom of Kambuja is also the history of the Khmer people from the 9th to the 15th centuries.

From Kambuja itself - and so also from the Angkor region - no written records have survived other than stone inscriptions. Therefore the current knowledge of the historical Khmer civilization is derived primarily from:

    * archaeological excavation, reconstruction and investigation
    * inscriptions on stela and on stones in the temples, which report on the political and religious deeds of the kings
    * reliefs in a series of temple walls with depictions of military marches, life in the palace, market scenes and the everyday lives of the population
    * reports and chronicles of Chinese diplomats, traders and travellers.

The era of the Khmer kingdom of Angkor started around 800 A. D., when King Jayavarman II married into a local ruling family of th