The Mystery of the Ancient City: Why Angkor Declined

Scientists have long puzzled over why one of the most advanced cities of the world at one time was completely empty. In the 12th century, about a million people lived in Angkor, but by the middle of the 19th century, when the temple complex of Angkor Wat was reopened, no trace of the city was left. The plundering of the city by Thai troops in 1431 is called the main cause of the decline of the megalopolis. But scientists from New Zealand voiced another possible reason for the disappearance of Angkor.

It is possible that the technologies that contributed to the flourishing of the city led to its decline. This is a city water system. The developed network of canals, reservoirs and ditches, which served to irrigate the surrounding fields and gave water to the locals, could not withstand abrupt climate changes, and began to gradually deteriorate.

To understand how weather conditions affected the Angkor plumbing, scientists conducted a computer simulation. Powerful floods, which alternated with long droughts, led to clogged earthen channels and the destruction of their walls. Due to the deteriorating situation and the poor harvests, the outflow of population from the city began, and it is very likely that by the time the Thais captured the city, Angkor was already half-abandoned.