History of Sambor Prei Kuk
The ancient city where monuments of Sambo Prei Kuk are found today was identified as ISANAPURA, the capital of Chenla in 7th century. Chenla was a former vassal of the Funan kingdom that was one of the first state in Southeast Asia, but it gradually gained its power and eventually King Citrasena Mahendravarman of Funan in the early 7th century.
Main archaeological features in these groups of monuments are said to have been founded by king ISANAVARMAN I, the son of king Citrasena.
Many decorative details in Khmer architecture and sculpture are classified as Sambor style: the name was derived from these monuments dated in the first half of the 7th century. Henceforth this kingdom was the leading state and comprised the whole of Cambodia proper.
Furthermore, several successions of kings’ reign might have maintained these monuments as their capital city. The century following the death of JAYAVARMAN I who is the last known king of this kingdom in the second half of the 7th century is a dark period in the history of Chenla. According to a Chinese accounts, in the 8th century, the country of Chenla was divided into land and water Chenlas. The obscurity prevails and this monument might be neglected thereafter. The history. However, is traced again with the accession of JAYAVARMAN II, who founded a new polity that is now referred as Angkor in the beginning of 9th century. Decorative details of Prasat Tao (Central Group) are similar to the style of the remains belong to the period of the king JAYAVARMAN II, Particularly, characteristic lion statues resembles the statues found in Phnom Penh. From these reasons this architectural complex is said to be constructed in this period.
Furthermore some inscriptions in Prasat Sambor (Northern Group) are dated in the 10th century under the reign of the king RAJENDRA VARMANII. And Robang Romeas group that is located about 2km northward from main temple area, contains other inscriptions of the king SURYAVARMAN I period. Some other decorative details and statues belong to the late Angkor period styles were confirmed from these temples. These historical evidences suggest that these monuments must have belonged to the important provincial principle city after Pre Angkor period.
From above historical perspective, this group of monuments is extremely significant not only for Cambodia but also for the entire area of Southeast Asia, for they are the only remaining sound architectural constructions that exemplify the architecture and sculpture of the early period in sizable quantity.
Sambor Prei Kuk Group
Sambor Prei Kuk cluttering sanctuaries were located in Sambor Village, Kampong Cheuteal Commune, Prasat Sambor District, Kampong Thom Provice. King Mahendravarman had reigned form 607 to 616, was a son of a king Sambor Prei Kuk style characterized the real khmer telent. After right received influence and developed her own arts sufficient to the modern development. Arts and civilization of Angkor was the great achievement in Southeast Asia. The well-known city was called Isanapura is presently located at Sambor Prei Kuk, Kampong Thom Province. Sambor Prei Kuk is 25km north of Provincial Town of Kampong Thom. By observation, there are 52 small and big sanctuaries are in fairly good condition, the other 52 sanctuaries were fallen down and buried into the ground, and then became small hills. The sanctuaries were built of brick and limestone with the decoration of bas-relief on the scenery walls. The foundation of sanctuary was made of laterite, false door, diamond column and the sculptures were made of sandstone.
Prasat Sambor Group (Northern Sanctuaries)
Northern sanctuary group comprised 11 sanctuaries separated from each other with the one at the middle, and had two-wall rampart. The sanctuaries were built of brick and limestone and carve in the beautifully real khmer style. These achievements certified the real khmer talent, after received the influence from India. Khmer had prepared her country and developed arts by herself. The every great development was in Angkor civilization period. The sanctuary was built on a rectangular hill (24m 21m or 25,200 square meters or 2.52 hectares).
The sanctuary comprised 14 temples (only 8 remains), and were surrounded by two-wall rampart. These temples were constructed in various plans-square and octagonal shapes. The top of the temple was carved in lotus petals of sandstone, but some parts were cracked down and buried into the ground and the pile of bricks.
Lion Temple Group
Lion temple group comprise 18 temples with two ramparts closed to the pond. The reasons why the people called Lion Temple because on the tops of all stairs from the four directions, there were sitting lions with forelegs standing up, hind-legs humbling down, its head rose up and its mouse opened to the sanctuary.
The rampart outside made of laterite, had 328-meter length, 310-meter width and 101,650-square-meter surface.
This rampart had Gopura in two-direction (East and West) entrances that are connected by the other laterite ramparts. In between rampart 2 and 1, at the Northeastern side near the rampart 1, there was a rectangular pond (42.10m x 34.20m). The bottom of the pond spread by laterite and surrounded by the stepped stairs. The small stairs of the Southern side are made of sandstone.
Now the pond is empty during the dry season. When we enter from the Eastern Gopura on either side of the road, we see two sanctuary hills were built on high terrace with the tracks of the round column made of laterite lining up in 0.40m height.
Prasat Yeai Poeun Group
Prasat Yeai Poeun Group comprised a total of 22 sanctuaries (5 have octagonal shapes) with two wall rampart, and was built of brick, masonry, laterite and sandstone in rectangular from in 7th century (600-635) during the reign of Isanavarman I to dedicated to Shiva. They were built on a hill with Gopura from the eastern and western entrances joining to an outside laterite rampart. The inner rampart reached by gateways from the four directions and joined to the brick rampart carved in various clustering figures.
Along the sanctuary contained the eastern and western Gopura joined to the laterite rampart (304m x 274m or 83,296 square-meter surface). Gopura contained framed door with diamond columns and a lintel built of sandstone. Eastern Gopura contained a buried large inscription (size: 2.41m x 0,9m x 0,15) inscribed with 17 lines of script. This inscription was brought to be kept in Kampong Thom Museum.
Kroul Romeas Group
Behind Kroul Romeas Group, there were four more sanctuaries made of brick and built during the reign King Suryavarman 1(end of 11th century). These sanctuaries were built on a rectangular hill, and faced to the East. One of sanctuaries was not completely built yet, it was likely built in later period. The lintel was carved in the form of bow without the modal. At the southeastern side, there were two temples recognized as the original ancient khmer styles.
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