Shrouded in mystery and lure, the Khmer city of Angkor is one of the most mesmerizing places in the world. Founded around the year 800 CE by Jayavarman II (c. 770-850 CE), Angkor was the center of the powerful Khmer kingdom, which dominated much of what is present-day Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma, and Vietnam until the 15th century CE. At its height, Angkor was one of the largest and most technologically sophisticated cities in the world, crowned by a stunning architectural achievement: the temple complex of Angkor Wat. In this feature interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Mr. John Burgess — the author of A Woman of Angkor and former Washington Post foreign correspondent — about his new novel, the intricacies of ancient Khmer court culture, and why he has spent his life exploring the ruins of Khmer civilization.
The Cham people of central and south Vietnam have impressive artistic and architectural traditions, dating back more than 1700 years. Migrating from the island of Borneo to present-day Vietnam in second century CE, the Cham maintained a series of coastal kingdoms from c. 192-1832 CE. Champa–located at the crossroads of India, Java, and China–was the grand emporium of Southeast Asia and the chief rival of the powerful Khmer Empire. While primarily remembered in history as merchants, sailors, and warriors, the Cham were also skilled artisans and talented architects. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks with Dr. Ky Phuong Tran–a specialist on Cham cultural history–with regard to the unique characteristics of Cham art and architecture. The arts of Champa adapted various artistic tendencies from Southeast Asia, India, and even China as well.