Ph.D Thesis of a new Cambodian researcher – New discovery about KOH KER

“ The site of Koh Ker and the reign of Jayavarman IV, History, art and archaeology ”
Ph.D Thesis of University of Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris 3
By: Chen Chanratana
Directed by: Prof. Michel JACQ-HERGOUALC’H
Dissertation date: Dec. 14th, 2011
Address: 17, rue de la Sorbonne, 75005, Paris (Salle Bourga, rez-de-chaussée)
The reign of Jayavarman IV (921-941) is traditionally associated with the site of Koh Ker in the history of ancient Cambodia. This sovereign had left the Angkorian capital to install the seat of his power to some one hundred and twenty kilometers to the east, probably in a sparsely populated place, Chok Gargyar, now known as Koh Ker. At his death, around 944, his successor Rajendravarman reinstalls the capital at Angkor. No one can really explain this return – Koh Ker, abandoned by the kings, seems not to have survived after this abandonment. However, the number, importance and diversity of the monuments of the capital of Jayavarman IV exceed the period of reign and the construction of this monarch. It is therefore permissible to assume that the immediate abandonment of Koh Ker by the people, after the death of the king, is hard to accept. Its existence, beyond the two-decade reign, seems confirmed by the testimony of some monuments so-called “style of Koh Ker” built away from the short-lived capital, such as Prasat Kravan at Angkor or Prasat Neang Khmau in Takeo province, to name just two examples. Our work’s goal is to study as many monuments as possible from existing old records and our own research: indeed, if the buildings of the group of Koh Ker have been identified, they never have been properly analyzed. Studying the remains, the statuary and the inscriptions still in situ we have tried to establish a chronology of the buildings and statuary, and specify the style. Forty inscriptions from different Prasats — Thom, Krachap, Andong Kuk, Banteay Pir Choan, Chen, Damrei, Andong and Dan — provide information on the monuments of Koh Ker. These inscriptions are written in two languages, Sanskrit and Khmer, and mention the donations of the King and various dignitaries, the erection of temples for the gods, a list of slaves and the names of the districts…

Divided into four chapters, our research focuses on the site of Koh Ker and its king, Jayavarman IV. The architecture, decoration and iconography developed under his sovereignty are the main objectives of this study.
However, we must make a clarification: if the monument area of Koh Ker has been cleared in large part due to French credit, this study had to take into account the difficulty imposed by the absence of access to some monuments where a full clearance has not yet be secured.

Keywords: Cambodia, tenth century, archaeology, art, architecture, Jayavarman IV

ED 268 – Langage et langues : description, théorisation, transmission.
l’UFR 7528 – Monde iranien et indien
Centre Censier Service des Doctorats
13 rue Santeuil
75231 PARIS Cedex 05



  1. erikwdavis said,

    December 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    How is it possible to obtain a copy of this fascinating-sounding research?

    • December 7, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      For sure, the thesis about Koh Ker and the king Jayavarman IV will be available on the website of Kerdomnel Khmer in 2012 after the defense and correction. Thanks for your attention.

      Best regards,

      Kerdomnel Khmer Group

  2. erikwdavis said,

    December 7, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Wonderful! Please make certain to promote via Thailand/Laos/Cambodia (TLC) studies group (AAS), and elsewhere, so we can all enjoy the results of this important-sounding work.


    Erik W. Davis

    • December 7, 2011 at 11:34 pm

      Thanks again for your attention Mr. Erik. I will send to you after the correction via TLC studies group.


      CHEN Chanratana
      Kerdomnel Khmer Founder

  3. Vittorio Roveda said,

    December 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

    As an independent European researcher I am delighted to see a Cambodian approaching such an important and difficult task of studying Koh Ker and monuments strictly associated with Koh Ker before and after, especially in decorative models. I look forward to read the published version, possibly under the patronage of cultural Associations or EFEO.
    Vittorio Roveda

    • December 15, 2011 at 9:54 pm

      Dear Sir,

      Thank so much for your attention about the study of Koh Ker. I will keep you in touch after this thesis will be available in the hard copy.

      Best regards,

      CHEN Chanratana
      Founder of Kerdomnel Khmer Group
      PhD. of Archaeology, history of Khmer art and art of S.E Asia

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