Wat’s Up?

A Monument to Us 

Angkor Wat, located in present-day Cambodia, is one of the world's most significant archaeological and architectural wonders. Based on our current measurement of understanding, it was built in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II of the Khmer Empire. Most importantly, it is the largest religious monument globally, initially dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu and later transformed into a Buddhist temple. As a result, this magnificent structure represents the apex of classical Khmer architecture and artistry.

However, recent theories have asserted that Angkor Wat could be as old as 30,000 years, suggesting a much more ancient origin. Consequently, this piece delves into the historical background of Angkor Wat, examines the architectural and archaeological evidence, and assesses the possibility of its extreme antiquity.

The mainstream historical consensus dates Angkor Wat to the early 12th century, during the reign of King Suryavarman II (1113-1150 AD). It was designed as an exquisite temple complex reflecting the Hindu cosmos, with its central 

Five points

quincunx (numbering 5) of towers symbolizing Mount Meru, the home of the gods. Meanwhile, the construction of Angkor Wat marked the high point of Khmer architecture, characterized by its intricate bas-reliefs, extensive use of sandstone, and sophisticated engineering techniques.

The temple's construction involved immense resources, including an estimated 300,000 laborers and artisans, and it took an estimated 30 years to complete. Subsequently, after the decline of the Khmer Empire in the 15th century, Angkor Wat was slowly abandoned and fell into disrepair. After that, it was rediscovered by Western explorers in the 19th century, sparking renewed interest and efforts towards its restoration and preservation.

As far as we know

The architectural and archaeological evidence supports the 12th-century origin theory of Angkor Wat. Key elements of this proof include:

Epigraphic Records: Inscriptions found at Angkor Wat and other nearby temples provide detailed accounts of the temple's construction, dedication, and the historical context of the Khmer Empire during the 12th century. As a result, these inscriptions are written in Khmer and Sanskrit, indicating a sophisticated level of literacy and administrative organization.

Stylistic Analysis: Angkor Wat's architectural style is consistent with other known structures from the same period in the Khmer Empire. Likewise, this includes the layout, the design of the towers, and decorative elements such as the bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Hindu mythology and historical events.

Radiocarbon Dating: Radiocarbon dating of organic materials in and around Angkor Wat, such as wooden structures and human remains, consistently points to the 12th century. This scientific method provides a reliable timeline for the temple's construction and use. However, the effective dating range of Radiocarbon dating is only up to 50,000 years old. Beyond this range, the remaining C-14 (radioactive isotope of carbon) is so minimal that it becomes difficult to measure accurately.

Construction Techniques: The engineering methods used in Angkor Wat, including the precise cutting and placement of massive sandstone blocks, align with Khmer construction practices in the 12th century. In addition, the temple's water management system, featuring moats and reservoirs, also reflects advanced hydraulic engineering typical of the period.

Elephant in the Room

Despite the substantial body of evidence supporting the 12th-century construction of Angkor Wat, some alternative theories suggest a much older origin, dating as far back as 30,000 years. Further, proponents of this hypothesis argue that Angkor Wat was built by a prehistoric civilization with advanced knowledge and technology. They often point to anomalies in the temple's carved stone artwork and alignment with astronomical phenomena as evidence for their claims.

Carved Artwork: One of the most telling aspects of the age of Angkor Wat is the art they left behind. For example, a carving of a four-tusked elephant is in the bas-reliefs along the eastern gallery of the Bayon temple. Moreover, this bas-relief shows an animal that hasn't existed for over 2 million years. In 1953, Dutch researcher Dirk Albert Hooijer discovered the fossil of the four-tusked elephant, which he named Stegodon sompoensis, found on the Sulawesi island in Indonesia.

Seeing Stars

Astronomical Alignments: Some researchers suggest that Angkor Wat's alignment with certain celestial events indicates knowledge of astronomy that predates the Khmer Empire's known historical period. For example, experts cite the temple's orientation towards the equinoxes and solstices as evidence of an ancient understanding of celestial mechanics.

Geological Evidence: The supporters of the 30,000-year-old theory also highlight geological features in the region, like the erosion patterns on the temple stones. They argue that these could only have formed over tens of thousands of years. 

Mythological and Cultural References: Some theories draw on mythological and cultural references from Cambodian and broader Southeast Asian traditions, suggesting that the stories and legends surrounding Angkor Wat hint at a much older history. 

On the other hand

The hypothesis that Angkor Wat is 30,000 years old faces challenges when subjected to rigorous archaeological scrutiny. Several key points undermine the credibility of this claim:

Lack of Direct Evidence: There is a lack of direct archaeological or geological evidence supporting the notion that Angkor Wat predates the 12th century by such a vast margin. Most evidence used to support this theory is circumstantial or based on hypothetical interpretations.

Inconsistencies with Established Chronology: The established chronology of human civilization in Southeast Asia does not support the existence of an advanced society capable of building structures like Angkor Wat 30,000 years ago. Archaeological records indicate that the region was inhabited by hunter-gatherer societies at that time, with no evidence of complex urbanization or monumental architecture.

Age is just a number 

Mainstream Scientific Consensus: The overwhelming majority of historians, archaeologists, and geologists agree on the 12th-century origin of Angkor Wat. The methods used to date the temple, such as radiocarbon dating and stylistic analysis, are well-established and widely accepted in the academic community.

Methodological Issues: Proponents of the 30,000-year-old hypothesis often use inadequate methodologies. For example, researchers can be highly subjective when interpreting astronomical alignments and misinterpret geological evidence.

They were smart

However, Angkor Wat stands as a testament to the ingenuity and artistic brilliance of a high point in the history of Southeast Asian civilization. The evidence supporting its construction in the early 12th century fits the traditional thinking and text developed less than two hundred years ago. But we still don't fully understand how this edifice and other large structures were built without power tools or heavy construction equipment.

In addition, there are artistic depictions of animals that didn't exist during the alleged construction time. Similarly, society didn't uncover evidence of a four-tusked elephant for at least 800 years. How is it possible the artist even knew what they were carving?

Do you really know the truth? 

Throughout the world, we see evidence that cultures before us possessed incredible knowledge and skill. Our current system of interpreting timelines and clear anthropological paths is incomplete at best. Read my articles on Göbekli TepeSumeria, and Thoth, the King of Atlantis, and see how much "real" proof is available to all of us. 

In conclusion, if we wait around for mainstream archaeologists to tell us what our history as a people is, we will have an incomplete view of our rich history and massive capabilities.  


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