Archaeoastronomy in the Khmer Heartland

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Giulio Magli


The heartland of the Khmer empire is literally crowded with magnificent monuments built in the course of many centuries. These monuments include the world-famous "state-temples", such as Angkor Wat, but also many other temples and huge water reservoirs. Using data from Google Earth as well as GIS and reconstructing the ancient sky with Stellarium, we investigate the relationships of astronomy with orientation and topography in a systematic fashion, following the methods of modern Archaeoastronomy and strictly keeping at bay vague and/or esoteric proposals put forward by many authors in the past. As a result, a very clear pattern  of cardinal orientation and alignment arises, connected with the temple's symbolism and the management of power by the Khmer kings. As a bonus, the comparison with the Angkor monuments allows to put forward a explanation for the anomalous orientation of two unique "peripheral" state temples of Cambodia.

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How to Cite
Magli, G. (2017). Archaeoastronomy in the Khmer Heartland. Studies in Digital Heritage, 1(1), 1-17.
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Author Biography

Giulio Magli, Politecnico di Milano

Director, Department of Mathematics