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[Before AD100] PRE-FUNAN TIMES:  

At the end of the ice age (12,000BC) the Indo Chinese region is firstly inhabited by Australoid peoples. The land bridges between Malaya, the Indonesian islands and Australia are submerged. Various population groups migrate through southeast Asia. The Mon-Khmer people gradually settle in the lands which later become the kingdoms of Funan and Chenla and they become the dominant tribes in the area.


The Indo-Chinese region today comprises the countries of Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. It is made up of large fertile plains which lie around two rivers, the Mekong and the Tonle Sap. The land is settled by various tribes who develop the independent kingdoms of Tonkin, Annam, Cochin China, Cambodia, Laos and Siam.

4000 BC - AD 100 Settlements are formed throughout the Indo-China region. The major cultural influences on the region are from China and India. The Dong-Son culture becomes established in the northern part of today's Vietnam.

[Map] AD 100 The Kingdom of Funan, part of the lands which will become the vast Khmer Empire or Cambodia, is established by the legendary Indian brahmin, Kambu. The peaceful settlement of Indian traders begins the process of Indianization of Cambodia.

AD 245 Two Chinese ambassadors visit Funan and produce a report on all aspects of life in the kingdom.

AD 357 King Chandan, who is probably of Indian origin, comes to the throne of Funan. He is succeeded by another brahmin ruler.

End AD 400 - AD 500 The Kingdom of Funan is a prosperous trading region, lying on the trade and pilgrimage route between India and China.
Indian culture still plays an important part in the developing Kingdom of Funan, although native influence over customs, art, architecture and religion is now also very strong. Both forms of Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism, a type of Buddhist religion popular in India and China, exist in Funan.

6th century There is evidence from the texts of contemporary Chinese historians that the Funan Empire is strong and respected throughout Asia. Indian influence is still very much evident in all areas of life. Trade in Funan is centered in the prosperous port city of Oc-eo.

AD 514 - AD 539 King Rudravarman is the last of the great kings of Funan. He cultivates the worship of the Hindu god Vishnu. Statues of the god dating from his reign still exist today, showing the influence of contemporary Indian art and religious iconography.

AD 550 Prince Bhavavarman of the Funan royal family (and grandson of King Rudravarman) marries the female heir to the throne of Chenla, a fertile kingdom to the north of Funan occupying the territory which today is Laos. Chenla is inhabited by the Mon-Khmer people whose leaders are related to the Funan royal family before the time of Bhavavarman.

On the Chenla king's death, Bhavavarman becomes King of Chenla, and when the Funan king dies, he siezes Funan as well. Within a few years, Funan becomes a vassal state to Chenla.



AD 600 - AD 611 Bhavavarman is succeeded by Mahendravarman and then by Isanavarman, both of whom are strong kings and complete the process of integrating Funan into Chenla. The capital of Chenla is initially at Sambor, some 40 miles southeast of Angkor.

AD 616 - AD 635 King Isanavarman rules the Kingdom of Chenla with his capital at Sambor Prei Kuk.

Architecture develops in the kingdom using sandstone for building and beautiful carvings in stone for the temples.

AD 635 - AD 656 King Bhavavarman II rules Chenla. Mahayana Buddhism spreads in Chenla. Statues celebrating this religion are found.

AD 750 Jayavarman I becomes King of Chenla. His reputation is as a strong war-like king who expands the Chenla kingdom through his many conquests. Ruined temples from this time still stand in the land around the Angkor region. Wars of succession divide and weaken Kambuja. Contact with India is broken and trade ceases. As the Kingdom of Chenla declines, the Saliendra dynasty in Indonesia rises to power. It is possible that this Indonesian dynasty may have, in part, descended from the royal family of Funan.

Late AD 800 This is a period of weakness and eventual disintegration into individual states for the Kingdom of Chenla. There is an administrative breakdown which results in the separate states being powerless. Meanwhile the Saliendra dynasty, the ruling house of the Indonesian Empire, becomes increasingly powerful and starts expanding in southeast Asia. The Saliendra king of Java invades Chenla and claims the throne, possibly on the grounds that he is descended from the royal house of Funan. Cambodia becomes a vassal state of Java.

AD 800 - AD 850 Jayavarman II, a young man connected to the Chenla royal family and educated at the Saliendra court in Java, returns to Chenla in AD 790. He becomes king around AD 800. Initially he extends his kingdom by seizing land to the north and east of Chenla. His 50-year reign is decisive in developing the Khmer Kingdom by establishing its constitution, religion and capital. His reign also sees important changes in Khmer architecture. He builds several capitals, but finally establishes his principal capital at Roluos, about 10 miles southeast of today's town of Siem Reap. He names this city Hariharalaya.

AD 850 - AD 877 Jayavarman III, son of Jayavarman II, succeeds the throne of Kambuja and continues to rule the empire from the city at Roluos.

AD 877 - AD 889 Indravarman I, a nephew of Jayavarman II, rules Kambuja. He is learned and brings peace and unity to the Khmer Kingdom. He has a wide reputation for being a strong king throughout southeast Asia. His peaceful reign and the income from the expanding Khmer Empire enables King Indravarman I to embark on an ambitious building program.

AD 877 Indravarman builds a large reservoir north of the city.

AD 889 - AD 900 Yasovarman I (son of Indravarman) is King of Kambuja. He supposedly descends from the Funan royal family through his mother. Many inscriptions found on temple walls describing the events of his rule date from his reign. It is believed that he was a strong but tyrannical ruler. He moves the city from Roluos to the present site of Angkor, a few miles from today's town of Siem Reap. Here he [Map] builds the city of Yasodharapura with the Bakheng as the central temple. At Roluos he builds the Lolei Temple in the center of the baray.

AD 900 - AD 921 Harshavarman I, Yasovarman's brother, rules. He builds his temple-mountain, the Baksei Chamkrong, a stone pyramid with a single tower.

AD 921 Harshavarman's uncle, Jayavarman IV, divides the kingdom and sets up a rival capital about 60 miles to the north east of Angkor in the old Chen La Kingdom at Koh Ker. His son rules in this new capital.
Prasat Kravan is built to honor Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu. It is a brick temple with a rich beautiful shrine. This is one of the first temples not to be dedicated by a king, but rather by an individual or member of the hereditary aristocracy.

AD 930 - AD 944 An usurper successor (whose name is unknown) rules, followed by his son. The capital remains far away from the Angkor site.

AD 944 - AD 968 Rajendravarman II, a descendant of Yasovarman I, rules Kambuja and brings the court back to the old capital, Yasodharapura, at Angkor. He continues to expand the Khmer Empire further and manages an impressive building program during his relatively short reign. The Sanskrit inscriptions on the temples remaining from this reign tell us that this king was wise and tolerant. Several Mahayana Buddhist establishments are set up at Angkor during his reign.

AD 950 Rajendravarman II attacks the Cham Kingdom which lies to the east of Kambuja.

AD 968 - 1001 Jayavarman V rules Kambuja. His reign is marked by peace, prosperity and cultural development. Jayavarman V's court is filled with scholars, poets, ministers, ecclesiastics and philosophers who discuss the mysteries of the world, paint its beauties, write music and songs, dance for the delight of the king and his courtiers and build wonderful temples, among them the exquisite temple of Banteai Srei.
Jayavarman V also builds the temple of Ta Keo which is dedicated to Siva and is the first of the Angkor temples to be built completely of sandstone.

1001 - 1006 A period of weakness and civil war in Kambuja. Udayadityavarman I rules, followed by Jayaviravarman, both descendants of the royal house of Kambuja.

1002 Suryavarman, a young man who may have come from the Malayan provinces of the Khmer Empire, ascends the throne of Kambuja by claiming that his mother was descended from Indravarman I. He invades Kambuja and by 1006 overcomes Jayaviravarman and becomes King of Kambuja.

1006 - 1050 Suryavarman I is King of Kambuja for nearly 50 years. At the beginning of his reign he embarks on a campaign of territorial expansion, annexing land in the Menam valley to the west and the Mekong valley to the north. After this there is peace and much building. Suryavarman is responsible for the planning and foundations of much of the city that can be seen at Angkor today. He adopts the royal Hindu cult of Devaraja and sets himself up as a representative of the god Siva. However, his homeland is a Buddhist one so he also helps the spread of Mahayana Buddhism in Cambodia.

1050 - 1066 Udayadityavarman II succeeds Suryavarman I and continues building in Angkor. He builds the west baray and canals, and submerges some of the old ninth-century city under it. He builds a new city at Angkor, the third city to be built there. His central temple is the Baphuon Temple. There is further consolidation and expansion of the Khmer Empire.

1060 Towards the end of his reign, there is a period of internal rivalry and warfare which weakens the kingdom. The Cham regain their independence and sack and burn the city of Sambor in Chen La, on the Mekong.

1066 - 1080 Harshavarman II rules until 1080, gradually losing the empire his predecessors had gained. Some of the earlier temples are destroyed, including the temple of Preah Pulilay (built by Udayadityavarman I) of which only a fragment remains showing the beautiful decoration achieved during Udayadityavarman's reign.

1080 A northern provincial governor claiming aristocratic descent seizes the kingdom and founds a new dynasty, calling himself Jayavarman VI. There are rival claimants to the throne and he never fully establishes himself at Angkor, only building in northern Cambodia, at Preah Vihear, Vat Phu and Phimai in the part of the empire which is now northern Thailand. He dies in 1107.

1107 - 1113 Jayavarman VI's brothers rule. Rival claims to the throne and civil war continue and the kingdom is temporarily partitioned. Suryavarman, an ambitious nobleman who claimes he is related to the Cambodian royal family, takes advantage of the weakened kingdom and seizes power. He deposes both kings and takes the throne.

1113 - 1150 Suryavarman II rules Kambuja. Initially, he concentrates on territorial expansion and conquers [Map]the neighboring kingdom of the Chams, extending the limits of the Khmer Empire more than ever before. He embarks on an ambitious building program, expanding the city of Angkor and building many temples including Preah Pithu, Chansay Tevoda and Thommanon, all in the Angkor region. Angkor Wat, a temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, and generally recognized as the highest achievement of Khmer temple architecture, is also built during his reign.

1145 Suryavarman plans to seize control of all of Annam and asks the king of Champa to assist him. He refuses so Suryavarman deposes him and annexes his kingdom. The Cham regain independence in 1149.

1150 Suryavarman II tries to reconquer Annam. He leads his armies through jungle mountains where they die of fever. He dies in 1150, leaving the kingdom exhausted and weak.

1150 - 1181 Suryavarman's strong rule is followed by rival claims to the throne and warfare, during which many buildings are destroyed. The legitimate heir is Jayavarman, the son of Suryavarman II. He is a fervent Buddhist who deplores violence. When a rival, Yasovarman, claims the throne, Jayavarman allows him to take it in order to avert bloodshed in the kingdom, and he retires to Champa. Yasosvarman is killed by rebels after a five-year reign. Jayavarman again steps down to his rival claimant, Tribhuvanandityavarman, who is a nobleman not directly descended from the house of Kambuja. War between Kambuja and Champa follows.

1177 The Cham sack Angkor, take its wealth and burn the wooden city. Jayavarman returns to Kambuja and defeats the Cham, removing them from the kingdom in a great and decisive battle.

1181 - 1220 Jayavarman becomes king in 1181 and rules the kingdom as Jayavarman VII. He takes revenge on the Cham, invades Champa, seizes the capital, Vijaya, and reduces Champa to a vassal state of the Khmer Empire. Then he extends the empire more than ever before through a series of campaigns. In the south he annexes most of the Malay peninsula, in the west he takes land as far as the borders of Burma, he goes north as far as Vientiane and into Annam in the east.

1181 In order to appease the people who are increasingly adopting Buddhism, Jayavarman becomes a Buddhist himself.
Once he stabilizes his enlarged empire, Jayavarman starts a massive building program. This includes the reconstruction of Angkor Thom with the Bayon as the central temple and the building of Ta Prohm and Preah Khan temples.

Banteai Kdei, Sra Srang (a large public bathing pool), Banteai Chmar, Neak Pean, and Ta Som temples are also built. Along the main roads leading to Angkor he builds 102 hospitals and 121 pilgrim hostels. The vast amount of building results in Jayavarman overtaxing and overworking his subjects. Land is lost from the empire and Champa breaks away from the Khmer Kingdom again.

1220 - 1400 Twelve kings of Kambuja rule a shrinking, weakening empire. Despite this, the royal court continues its extravagant lifestyle, but no new temples are built.


From around 1220 when Jayavarman VII [Map]dies, the Khmer Empire declines and the Thai Empire to the west of Kambuja becomes the dominant force in southeast Asia. The Cham people to the east of Kambuja and the Laotians to the north also become increasingly significant in the region. Hinayanist Buddhism, advocating a simple life of both people and priests becomes established in Kambuja.

1296 The Chinese ambassador and his entourage visit Kambuja and spend a year in Angkor. Chou Ta-Kuan, one of the Chinese officials, writes his report of late 13th-century Kambuja from which much of our knowledge of the kingdom at this time is drawn.

1350 The Thai capital is moved to Ayudhya, near Angkor. This threatens the increasingly weak Cambodian Kingdom.

1350 - 1430 Almost continual warfare between the Thais and Khmers is waged during this period.

1369 The Thais attack Angkor and take the city. They control it briefly.

1389 Angkor again falls to the Thais.

1431 The Thais launch a major attack on Angkor. After a seven-month siege, Angkor falls and is sacked and looted. The city is deserted the following year and the capital is moved east to the region of Phnom Penh.


From the mid-15th century onwards, after Angkor falls to the Thais, the Khmer Empire is in serious decline. The Vietnamese and Thai Empires control the Indo-China peninsula. Warfare continues between the Thais and Khmers, with Kambuja periodically becoming little more than a vassal state of Thailand.

1516 - 1566 King Ang Chan rules Kambuja. His reign sees a strengthening of the Khmer Kingdom and some raids into Thailand are made.

1564 The Khmers reach Ayudhya, the capital of Thailand, try to annex it, but find it already occupied by the Burmese.

1566 - 1576 King Barom Reachea I rules Kambuja. There is a second period of greater Khmer strength and some temporary success in the wars against the Thais. The Cambodian court briefly reoccupies Angkor.


1576 - 1594 Under constant attack from the Thais, King Satha, who rules Kambuja, seeks military support from the Spanish, who by this time are well established in southeast Asia.

1594 The Thais capture the new Cambodian capital at Lovek.

1594 Satha is deposed. The usurper, Chung Prei, becomes king.

1596 A Spanish expedition arrives in Cambodia to aid King Satha against the Thais. They sack the Chinese quarter of Phnom Penh and kill the king and his son. They then march to Laos and take King Satha's son, putting him on the Kambujan throne in Phnom Penh as King Barom Reachea II.

1599 The Kambujan court try to oust Reachea II in favor of King Satha's brother, Soryopor, to rid Kambuja of Spanish influence. The inhabitants of the Spanish garrison in Phnom Penh are massacred and Soryopor takes control after a brief period of confusion when three princes occupy the throne. This marks the end of the Spanish influence in Cambodia.

17th & 18th centuries The Kingdom of Cambodia continues to shrink and survives increasingly at the mercy of Thailand and the Nguyen lords who rule Vietnam.

1779 - 1860 With Thai support, the Ang clan rule Cambodia from 1779 until 1860.

1857 France invades Vietnam, aiming to win the race with England to take control of the Indo-Chinese peninsula.

1860 - 1904 King Norodom rules Cambodia. In 1863, Cambodia is established as a French protectorate, ostensibly to prevent the country from being swallowed up by Thailand and Vietnam. In 1884, King Norodom is forced to sign a convention with France which transfers a great deal of control of Cambodia to the French. There is a brief but strong popular rebellion against French control of Cambodia from 1885 to 1887 which is supported by the king.

1860 Henri Mouhot, a French botanist discovers the Angkor ruins. French interest in Angkor begins, leading to an intensive research and restoration program throughout the later half of the 19th and 20th century by the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient. The program is disrupted by the Vietnam war in the 1960s.

1863 - 1954 The period of France's protectorate over Cambodia.

1904 - 1927 Norodom's half brother, Sisowath, rules Cambodia under French control.

1916 Peasant uprisings against taxes and forced labor show popular opposition to the repressive French rule.

1927 - 1941 King Monivong rules Cambodia. Land in the east of the country is cultivated for rubber plantations.

1940 The Japanese occupy Indo-China.


Prince Sihanouk (aged 18) is put on the throne of Cambodia by the French in 1941 and remains in power until 1970.
In the mid-60s, the Khmer Rouge, an extreme-left organization becomes active against Sihanouk's government.
In the late 60s, Sihanouk sides with the right wing elements in the government and crushes the Khmer Rouge. Their leaders flee to the countryside where they amass strength and numbers.

1969 - 1973 The United States bombs eastern Cambodia as part of the efforts to defeat the North Vietnamese communist forces [Map]who use Cambodian territory in their guerrilla war against South Vietnam and the United States.

1970 Sihanouk's major political opponent, Lon Nol, deposes him, bringing a new government into power. Sihanouk moves to Peking and heads a government in exile, the National United Front of Cambodia.
South Vietnamese and US forces invade Cambodia on May 1 in an attempt to defeat Vietnamese communist forces hiding in Cambodia.
The Khmer Rouge become a significant opposition force to the Lon Nol government.

1975 Phnom Penh is taken by the Khmer Rouge on April 1. From 1975 to 1979 the Khmer Rouge are in power backed by the Peking government. Cambodia is renamed the Republic of Democratic Kampuchea.

Pol Pot, who was trained as a Buddhist monk and educated at a French university, becomes the foremost leader of the Khmer Rouge when he is made premier. Khieu Samphan, another important Khmer Rouge leader, is named head of state.

The Kampuchea government implements a vast program of social reorganization, relocating the urban population to the countryside and forcing them to work on collective farms. There is massive genocide of the Cambodian people, particularly the intelligentsia. Many Buddhist monks who live in the Angkor temples are massacred along with the majority of the Buddhist population.

[Map]1979 The Vietnamese invade Cambodia, take Phnom Penh and set up a new government. Pol Pot and Khieu Sampan flee to China and organize guerrilla resistance to the Vietnamese-backed government. There is civil war and mass starvation in Cambodia.
A large number of refugees from Cambodia flee into Thailand. The United Nations refuses to acknowledge the Vietnamese-backed government. Fighting between Kampuchea and Vietnam continues until 1989 when the Vietnamese withdraw.

1991 Prince Sihanouk returns to Cambodia in November to help set up a new government.

1992 A coalition government of opposition parties, including the National United Front of Cambodia led by Sihanouk, is set up in Cambodia and monitored by the United Nations. Refugees from camps in Thailand begin to return to Cambodia.
Work to restore Angkor, disrupted since the late 1960s, is actively begun again. Tourists return to Angkor.

Today, the Kingdom of Cambodia is once again a peaceful place to visit. It is, at present, in the process of getting rebuilt. Cambodia now in-corporate a Parliamentary Government system, with His Majesty Preah Bat Norodom Sihamoni, King and Head of State; H.E. Samdech Chea Sim, President of the Senate; H.R.H. Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh, President of the National Assembly and H.E. Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister. His Majesty effectively remains the symbol of national unity for the people of Cambodia who hold him dear to their hearts.