It was this last King, Jayavarman VII who was most productive
during his 20 year reign. First of all, he repaired and reconstructed
the buildings of his predecessors which had been destroyed in 1177
by a large fleet of Cham vessels sailing up the Tonle Sap via the
Mekong River. The Chams were a mighty people whose capital
was Qui-Nonh on the coast of Vietnam. Next, Jayavarman built
the Bayon, a gigantic edifice I will describe later, and the Prah Khan.
He distinguished himself from many of his forefathers because he
also accomplished much useful work, including construction of
roads, bridges, hospitals and extensive irrigation works.
After his death, the empire crumbled and even though the army
counted several millions, it could not hold out against the Siamese.
|Of the various reasons given for the fall of the Khmer, the economic decay appeals to me most.||As it still does nowadays, the Tonle Sap, or Great Lake, provided the essentials: first of all copious fish, and, indirectly by means of the annual flooding, the water (and mud) for irrigation of the rice fields.|