Although it’s maybe probably the most closely looted archaeological web site in Cambodia, the huge settlement of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay nonetheless beguiles archaeologists and vacationers with its dimension and sweetness. Some 50 miles east of Angkor—the capital of the Khmer Empire, which spanned a lot of mainland Southeast Asia between the ninth and fifteenth centuries A.D.—Preah Khan is believed to have served as an vital Buddhist pilgrimage heart and a rich approach station for the uncooked supplies that fueled the empire’s enlargement. First constructed within the eleventh century, the location consists of 4 concentric enclosure partitions that encompass a number of temples manufactured from brick, laterite, and sandstone. “Preah Khan is an enigma as a result of it’s the single largest development ever constructed by the Khmer,” says archaeologist Mitch Hendrickson of the College of Illinois at Chicago. “It’s even larger than the advanced of Angkor Thom inside Angkor itself.”
Although many artifacts and reliefs have been stolen from Preah Khan within the 1970s and 1980s, the archaeological supplies that do survive counsel the location might have been practically as rich as Angkor. For many years, researchers have pointed to slag piles and doable furnace areas as proof that Preah Khan was a middle of iron manufacturing. Nevertheless, Hendrickson and his colleagues have dated samples taken from a number of areas on the web site and decided that smelting actions passed off there beginning solely within the early fifteenth century. Hendrickson notes that Preah Khan was situated roughly 20 miles from Phnom Dek, Cambodia’s largest supply of iron oxide, an integral part within the smelting course of. This positioned the settlement at its peak to behave as a conduit between iron smelters based mostly at Phnom Dek—who have been members of an ethnic minority referred to as the Kuay—and the metropolis at Angkor. “A part of the rationale Preah Khan managed to succeed in the wealth that it had,” Hendrickson explains, “was that it served as a mediator for the manufacturing of iron between these two areas.”
The journey to Preah Khan takes 4 hours by automotive from the city of Siem Reap and the Angkor ruins. 4-wheel drive is advisable. Hendrickson recommends hiring a information to assist discover Preah Khan’s most spectacular constructions, together with the island temple of Preah Thkol on the heart of the location’s reservoir, and Preah Chatumukh, a tower depicting a standing Buddha.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
Regardless of the grandeur of Preah Khan, the location’s distant location means you’ll possible be one among solely a handful of tourists on any given day. Deliver binoculars to catch sight of the various species of native birds or take a ebook and benefit from the solitude.