|For hundreds of years, the lost city of Angkor was itself a legend. Cambodian peasants living on the edge
of the thick jungle around the Tonle Sap lake reported findings which puzzled the French colonialists who
arrived in Indo-China in the 1860s. The peasants said they had found "temples built by gods or by giants."
Their stories were casually dismissed as folktales by the pragmatic Europeans. Yet some did believe that
there really was a lost city of a Cambodian empire which had once been powerful and wealthy, but had
crumbled many years before.
Henri Mahout's discovery of the Angkor temples in 1860 opened up this `lost city' to the world. The legend
became fact and a stream of explorers, historians and archaeologists came to Angkor to explain the
meaning of these vast buildings. The earliest of these scholars could not believe that Angkor had been
built by the Cambodian people, believing the temples to have been built by another race who had
conquered and occupied Cambodia maybe 2,000 years before. Gradually, some of the mysteries were
explained, the Sanskrit inscriptions deciphered and the history of Angkor slowly pieced together, mainly by
French scholars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
|TALL WORLD TALES