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The Slow Decline of Ancient Angkor

As opposed to the belief that the ancient Cambodian city of Angkor was abandoned all of a sudden due to military defeat, researchers suggest that the city was gradually forsaken by its people.

New sediment analyses indicate that the city’s ruling elites gradually abandoned Angkor starting in the early 1300s, researchers report online February 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
That’s when geologic signs of human activity began to decline at Angkor Thom, a walled city within Greater Angkor, the team found. Evidence of burning, forest disturbances and soil erosion from farming — gleaned from remnants of plants, pollen and minerals that had accumulated from the surrounding area in sediment taken from Angkor Thom’s moat — decreased throughout the 1300s, say geoscientist Dan Penny of the University of Sydney and his colleagues.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

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