News Release

Uses of Angkor Wat through time

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


image: These are excavations on house mounds within the Angkor Wat temple enclosure in 2015. view more 

Credit: Alison K. Carter

A study finds a revised timeline for the decline of the Angkor Wat complex between the 11th and 18th centuries CE. One of Cambodia's national symbols, Angkor Wat is also one of the largest monumental remnants of the Angkorian empire. The complex and the civilization that constructed it are thought to have fallen from prominence in the 15th century. Alison Carter and colleagues constructed a revised chronology of human occupation of the site, based on radiocarbon dating of excavated charcoal samples. The samples suggest that the site was occupied from the 11th through the 13th centuries, following which a gap appears in the radiocarbon record. Occupation resumed in the late 14th century through the 18th century. The gap suggests that occupation mounds around the temple were abandoned or transformed during a period that is not correlated with the decline of the Angkorian empire in the 15th century. Instead, the transformation appears to have taken place before the empire's decline, but the site was later reoccupied and eventually became a Buddhist pilgrimage center. According to the authors, the high-resolution chronological data offers a nuanced picture of the changing use of Angkor Wat over time.

Article #18-21879: "Temple occupation and the tempo of collapse at Angkor Wat, Cambodia," by Alison Carter et al.

MEDIA CONTACT: Alison Carter, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR; tel: 541-346-5037, 773-354-2483; e-mail:


Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.