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Chenla (Pre-Angkor Era) 550 A.D. - 8th Century
History of Cambodia
Pre-Angkor :
Java Invasion
Birth of Angkor
Chenla (called by Chinese or "Kambuja" by Khmer) was a more direct ancestor of the Khmer Empire. Its history first appear in the Chinese Chronicles as a Funan's vassal state who gained its independence from Funan around the year 550 A.D.  Within the next 60 years, Chenla succeeded to conquer its predecessor the Funan, and gradually absorbed its people as well as inherited the Indian cultures.

The first capital of Chenla, named Isanapura, was established around 613 A.D. at Sambor Prei Kuk in Kompong Thom province of modern Cambodia.

Later on Chenla was divided into northern and southern states, of which the Chinese Chronicles refers to as "Chenla of the Land" and "Chenla of the Sea", respectively.  The center of the northern Chenla was at the Champassak province of today southern Laos, whereas that of the Southern Chenla occupied the former Funan's territory along the Mekong Delta and the coast. In 715, both Chenla states were further broken up into several smaller states.

During the 8th century, another naval state emerged into a strong "Java Empire" across the sea.  Dispute among the historians about the center of this Java Empire still has not been resolved, as it  could be either the Java Island of today Indonenesia or the Malay Peninsula.  Java vigorously expanded its territory and sailed to invade and finally conquered the weak Chenla states.

Ironically, the fate of Chenla and the invasion of Java Empire planted the actual seed for the establishment of the Angkor Empire.


Written by Aphisit W.
Mark Standen: Passage through Angkor

Historical Background :
Indian's Influence
Khmer Society
Khmer People
Mastery over Water
Khmer Civilization :
Khmer Civilization
Pre-Angkor Era
Angkor Era
Post Angkor Era
Rise and Fall of Khmer
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