In 1860, Henri Mouhot, a French naturalist had gone to Indo-China in search of rare birds and insects. He didn't find rare birds or insects but found monumental highways, artificial waterways and magnificently constructed towers. These he realized were not ordinary buildings but were the remnants of a splendid civilization. Unfortunately Mouhot fell sick and died of tropical fever. His reports were passed on to others. And all the details arrived at one conclusion - that there occurred a brilliant civilization.
The minute details were later on discovered by the French government who set up an Exploration Commission. By 1885 they had worked up a chronology of the rulers and developed the outlines of a description of the civilization that had produced the wondrous city. They could document that Angkor had been constructed by a south-east Asian people, called Khmers. They developed militarily and technologically for 500 years. But the question which historians could not answer was that why these ancient peoples suddenly chose to abandon settlements that they labored so hard to build?
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