The objective of this panel is to show up the latest results of archaeological, epigraphic and art historical research of Koh Ker and thereby highlight its importance in the early history of the Khmer Empire as well as its significance as part of Cambodian cultural heritage.
According to the generally accepted view Koh Ker was the centre of the Khmer Empire between 928 and 944 CE. King Jayavarman IV moved the centre of his kingdom from the area of Roluos to the mountain of Chok Gargyar, only to be returned in less than two decades to its earlier location at Angkor. The apparently ephemeral history of Koh Ker, nonetheless witness to grand scale constructions turning a vast landscape of 81km2 into a royal city, a sacred area dotted with temples and shrines adorned with magnificent sculpture, has been in many respects an enigma for the researchers of Khmer history. The great number of temples and the concentration of archaeological surface finds, sherds of datable commercial ceramic ware as well as inscriptions, many of which are dated later than the period as royal centre, however, indicate that the importance of Koh Ker did not fade even after the mid-10th century. At the other end of its timeline, it has also been suggested that the emergence of Koh Ker may considerably predate its central role. The scope of the panel will cover the latest results of archaeological, epigraphic and art historical research of Koh Ker, thereby highlighting its importance in the early history of the Khmer Empire as well as its significance as part of Cambodian cultural heritage. The application in archaeological research of the data provided by the LiDAR survey of Koh Ker as well as laboratory methods in establishing chronology will also be considered.