National Geographic: Glories Of Angkor


For hundreds of years, they lay in


Their creators had been destroyed,

but their spirit could not be killed.

Gods had built them, some said.

Others insisted...

they had built themselves.

Yet most believed that powerful

spirits protected the vast stone city

deep in the Cambodian jungle.

And woe would come to whomever

disturbed its slumber.

Centuries apart, two men would fall

under Angkor's spell.

One was a naturalist,

lured by tales of exotic creatures

and a fabulous lost city.

The other was a diplomat, sent to

demand tribute

from a civilization far richer than

he'd ever imagined.

Their epic tales would inflame the

world's curiosity,

and light a fire in the darkness of

Cambodia's lost world.

The mystery of Angkor is what is

not known.

We don't know much about the


Think about it with people, when it

was filled with worshippers,

the community were out in the

fields growing rice.

What was it like when it was

active and alive?

It's absolutely extraordinary,

the mystery is basically what is

this thing?

Why is it so big? Why is it

glittering in the sun like this?

What's it for?

It's mysterious, you feel that

something went on here

that's not going on there today,

but something went on there that's


from much of the rest of the world.

In Southeast Asia, an abandoned

city sprawls magnificently

across the heart of Cambodia.

Its hundreds of monuments

contain more stone than the

Egyptian Pyramids,

and cover more ground than

modern Paris.

This is Angkor,

the capital of an empire that once

controlled most of Southeast Asia.

They were called the Khmere.

And more than five hundred years

ago, they vanished

To the outside world, the city existed

only in obscure travelers' tales.

Until a Frenchman in the 19th century

brought Angkor to light.

He was a naturalist,

searching for unknown species of

plants and animals.

Almost by accident he uncovered

one of man's greatest creations.

In the 1850's Frenchman Henri

Mouhot might have been well

on his way to becoming the

world's first wildlife photographer.

A naturalist and a portrait painter,

Mouhot dabbled in the new,

devilish art of photography.

Mouhot was a born roamer

- by age 30 he'd crisscrossed

Europe and Russia.

But it was the tales of those who

ventured further abroad

that would lure him to the jungles

of Cambodia.

A book had just been published

in 1857

about the area of Southeast Asia.

In a sense it was the focus that

drew him.

The first Europeans to explore

Africa and Asia

were usually marginal people in

their own societies.

They didn't quite fit in.

And so they went to these other

places and explored them.

But in the process of exploring

them, they opened up new areas,

wrote about them, and provided

the raw information

that the European countries needed

to exploit these areas as colonies.

In 19th century Europe,

models for undaunted courage

were heroic explorers,

like Henry Morton Stanley.

While searching for the source of

e Nile,

Stanley watched most of his


die of fever and warfare with

hostile peoples.

Stanley lost 60 pounds and his hair

turned white.

"We have wept so often we can

weep no more," he wrote.

But there was one more blow


In his absence his fianc had

married another man.

For late 19th century explorers, it

was all in a day's work.

What they lost at home they

hoped to doubly gain abroad...

as the front-line troops of a new

surge of colonialism.

The revolution in manufacturing

that would transform Europe

was fueled - in part - by

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    "National Geographic: Glories Of Angkor" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 20 Jan. 2021. <>.

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