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Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Source: mikefuchslocher / Adobe Stock.

Angkor: A Once-Flourishing Civilization Doomed by Environmental Destruction (Video)


The ancient city of Angkor in Southeast Asia was once a thriving metropolis, home to the Khmer civilization and their massive temple complex, Angkor Wat. However, despite its grandeur, the city's downfall was inevitable. For centuries, people have speculated about what led to its abandonment, from marauding invaders to religious change. Recent evidence suggests that it was environmental mismanagement that sealed the city's fate. The Khmer civilization was one of the oldest in Southeast Asia, believed to be the descendants of the serpent God Naga.

Their kings were seen as mediators between the gods and mankind, but by the 15th century, the last king of Angkor was desperate to save his empire. According to legend, a ritual involving the Naga was meant to bring wealth and prosperity, but on this particular night, the stakes were higher than ever. The Khmer had overexploited their natural resources, and their society collapsed as a result. As we face our own global environmental crisis, the story of Angkor's fall is an eerie reminder of what can happen when we don't take care of our planet.

Top image: Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Source: mikefuchslocher / Adobe Stock.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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