Water & Climate



From the ninth to the thirteenth century, Angkor was one of the most advanced urban centres in the world. Some estimates suggest that the population numbered close to a million people, making Angkor by far the largest city in this period. Water was the lifeblood of the Khmer Empire and sustained the great metropolis of Angkor. 

In this module, we explore the Khmer relationship with the environment through three topics:

1) Living With Water, 2) The Hydraulic City and 3) Climate Vulnerability 



- Theme One -

Living With Water

The Khmer people that inhabited Angkor had a complex and multi-dimensional relationship with water. As their empire grew, so did its thirst for water. Alongside its importance in sustaining agriculture and thus the expansion of the Khmer Empire, the Khmers had a more immediate interaction with water on a daily basis. The video below will give you some sense of the place of water in Angkor.  Take a look at the video and the linked article below and try and answer the following questions:


- Reading -

Etsuo Uchida and Ichita Shimoda, “Quarries and transportation routes of Angkor monument sandstone blocks,” Journal of Archaeological Science 40, no. 2 (2013): 1158-1164.

- Questions -

  1. How is water being used?
  2. Where are the houses? Why do you think they have been built here? What does this tell you about Khmer understandings of their environment?
  3. Does this relationship between water and urban design remind you of any other cities?
  4. What do Uchida and Shimoda set out to find? Why do transportation routes matter and how did Angkor’s system of canals enable the creation of the great monuments of the city?

Theme 2: The Hydraulic City

Click to follow the link