New Discoveries at Angkor Wat

Angkor, in the northern Siem Reap province of Cambodia, is one of the most iconic archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. While the name might not be in common parlance, it takes only one glance at the skyline of these historic temples to become instantly recognizable.

Photo by Kit Schultze, Esplanade Travel Consultant

Angkor is a compound of temples and roads, including the most famous: Angkor Wat Temple. These structures were built during the Khmer Empire, between the 9th and 15th centuries, and the whole Angkor region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

This site, rich in history and intrigue, still has a few surprises for the world. Archaeologist Roland Fletcher led a team of experts to research Angkor Wat, and their discoveries led to new insights on the daily lives of the people who built, lived, and thrived in the complex.

The archaeologists discovered an extensive grid system of residences, showing that the entire complex of Angkor was one large city – rather than multiple smaller cities, as previously thought. It also led the researchers to find that many people lived outside the complex and “commuted” in to work at the temples. These roads connected people living outside the walls to the heart of the city. There is also evidence that the walls had been reinforced, as if for battle – though no evidence of combat has been found.

Most intriguing is the unearthing of a spiral staircase structure that, according to the research team, “defies explanation.”

There is plenty to learn about and discover in Cambodia, and it proves that even the most studied historical sites will always have mysteries.

Photo by Kit Schultze, Esplanade Travel Consultant

Thank you to Cambodia Daily for reporting on these discoveries and Dr. Fletcher and his team for sharing their research in the journal Antiquity.

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