What Ancient Civilization Lived in Cambodia?

Cambodia is a country with a rich and diverse history that goes back thousands of years. It has been home to several ancient civilizations, each with its unique culture and legacy. One such civilization that lived in Cambodia was the Khmer Empire.

The Khmer Empire

The Khmer Empire, also known as the Angkor Empire, was a powerful kingdom that ruled over large parts of Southeast Asia from the 9th to the 15th century. It was established by King Jayavarman II in 802 AD and lasted until 1431 AD when it was finally conquered by the Siamese kingdom.

Architecture and Art

One of the most remarkable features of the Khmer Empire was its architecture and art. The most famous example of this is Angkor Wat, a massive temple complex built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the 12th century. The temple is adorned with intricate carvings depicting scenes from Hindu mythology and is considered one of the greatest architectural achievements in human history.

Fun Fact: The moat around Angkor Wat is over five kilometers long!

The Khmer people were also known for their exquisite sculptures made from bronze, stone, and wood. These sculptures depicted various gods and goddesses from Hindu mythology as well as important historical figures.


The Khmer people were deeply religious, and Hinduism played a significant role in their society. They believed that their kings were divine beings who had been chosen by the gods to rule over them.

However, Buddhism also played an important role in Khmer society, especially during the later years of the empire. Many temples were built during this time that combined elements of both Hinduism and Buddhism.


The decline of the Khmer Empire began in the late 13th century when the kingdom was invaded by the neighboring Champa kingdom. This invasion weakened the Khmer Empire, making it vulnerable to attacks from other neighboring kingdoms.

In addition, several factors such as deforestation, overpopulation, and climate change also contributed to the decline of the empire. The final blow came in 1431 AD when the Siamese kingdom conquered Angkor and brought an end to the Khmer Empire.


The Khmer Empire was a remarkable civilization that left a lasting impact on Cambodia and Southeast Asia as a whole. Its architecture, art, and religion continue to inspire people around the world today.

Fun Fact: The Cambodian flag still features Angkor Wat as a symbol of its rich cultural heritage!