From the 12th to 15th centuries, Angkor thrived as a highly advanced and efficient center of the Khmer Empire.

Angkor rose as the capital of the Khmer Empire in the ninth century and remained the center of the kingdom into the 15th century.
Angkor was the world’s largest pre-industrial city, growing to an area of about 390 square miles.

Covering an area larger than modern-day New York, ancient Angkor has been estimated to have had a population of 750,000 people at its height in the 12th or 13th century.

Angkor Wat, built in the early 12th century, is the world’s largest religious monument.

The Khmer Empire of the 12th century was one of the most powerful, most successful, most sophisticated, and largest kingdoms in the history of Southeast Asia.

NASA’s Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AIRSAR) has revealed extensive waterworks and urban sprawl surrounding the many temples of the greater Angkor area.

The Greater Angkor Project (GAP) has used information from shuttle flyovers and NASA radar imagery to create a new map of ancient Angkor. The former Khmer capital is now believed to have covered three times the area previously estimated.

AIRSAR, installed on a modified plane and flown eight kilometers or more above the ground, can see through dense forest cover, clouds, and darkness to reveal the topography of an area at a speed of 215 meters per second.

GAPs investigations show that every single water source in the region was intensively and relentlessly exploited. There are inlets and outlets on all the major reservoirs, distributor canals, a series of very sophisticated water control devices.

This proved that the water management system was capable of providing additional food by way of irrigation to a substantial number of people.

The extensive rice fields of Angkor might have taxed the environment to the breaking point. Angkor may have suffered problems common to modern times, including deforestation, overpopulation, topsoil degradation and erosion.

Scientists are studying the archaeological evidence of repairs and changes made to Angkor’s waterways to determine if overexploited resources and subsequent ecological changes contributed to the city’s decline.

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Angkor Wat
Home to more than 1 million people in the twelfth century and larger than any European Cathedral, Angkor Wat remains one of the greatest temples in the world.

Video by National Geography
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Angkor Wat
Home to more than 1 million people in the twelfth century and larger than any European Cathedral, Angkor Wat remains one of the greatest temples in the world.