Perspectives on the ‘Collapse’ of Angkor and the Khmer Empire

Damian Evans, Martin Polkinghorne, Roland Fletcher, David Brotherson, Tegan Hall, Sarah Klassen, Pelle Wijker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The apparent decline of Angkor and the Khmer Empire between the 13th to 15th centuries has long been the focus of discussion and debate. Most explanations have focused on warfare, in particular a 1431 invasion by neighbouring Ayutthaya, as the ultimate cause of Angkor’s demise. In this chapter, we offer a critical review of the literature. Drawing on new perspectives arising from the last 20 years of archaeological research, we argue that depopulation of the Angkor region was likely a slow and gradual process and not a sudden or violent event as implied by conventional notions of ‘collapse’. Recent research instead points to a constellation of social, cultural, and environmental factors that contributed to varying degrees to a shift in political power away from the Angkor region in the mid-first millennium CE, accompanied by broad demographic changes that unfolded over centuries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Angkorian World
EditorsMitch Hendrickson, Miriam T. Stark, Damian Evans
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon; New York, NY
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781351128940
ISBN (Print)9780815355953, 9781032439266
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NameRoutledge Worlds


  • Angkor
  • Cambodian Archaeology
  • Khmer Empire


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