Koh Ker site and the reign of Jayavarman IV, art history and archaeology – Book Review

Koh Ker site and the reign of Jayavarman IV, art history and archaeology
“Koh Ker site and the reign of Jayavarman IV, art history and archaeology” by Dr. Chen Chenratana.

“Koh Ker site and the reign of Jayavarman IV, art history and archaeology”

 Book Review by Prof. Dr. Sorn Samnang

Cambodian history is divided into three main periods: Pre-Angkor (1st-9th century AD), Angkor (9th-15th century) and Post-Angkor (15th century to the present). The golden age of Khmer civilization was the period from the 9th to the 13th centuries, when Khmer Empire ruled large territories in mainland Southeast Asia and when huge temple complexes were built, not only in Angkor area but also in other places.

“Koh Ker site and the reign of Jayavarman IV, art history and archaeology” is the first work of Dr. Chen Chanratana, founder of Kerdomnel Khmer Foundation. This book traces the history of Cambodian king Jayavarman IV who reigned in the 10th century (928-941 A.D), a very unique period in the Age of Angkor, and the establishment of his new capital at Chok Gargyar, now known as Koh Ker which is located at about 120 kilometers northeast of Angkor.

The most important aspect of Chen’s work is the introduction of a new hypothesis concerning the ascension to the throne of Jayavarman IV and the reasons behind this change of capital. The author presented his evidence using a vast number of archaeological, textual, sculptural, and iconographic sources. In addition, he gathered new data from current research conducted by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of Cambodia, APSARA Authority, the École Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), the Japanese Government Team for Safeguarding Angkor (JSA), and the Hungarian Royal Angkor Foundation (RAF).

The French version of the book that has been published contains 596 pages in which the author discusses history, religion, social infrastructure, irrigation system, roads, literature, arts, architecture and iconography. This academic work of the University of Paris III Sorbonne was selected for publication by Presses Académiques Francophones (an academic publisher based in Germany).

This book is a remarkable achievement of a Cambodian scholar of the new generation. Chen Chanratana is inspiring young Cambodians to learn more about their own history, archaeology and culture. I greatly appreciate the French version and expect that the Khmer and English versions of this book will be very useful not only for Cambodian researchers, but also for international scholars specialized in Khmer Studies.

Phnom Penh, 26 May 2013

 Prof. Dr. Sorn Samnang –  Cambodian Historian
Chairman of the Academic Board
The Intered Institute
www.intered-institute.org

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