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The Khmer Empire is one of the most important ancient civilizations in southeast Asia established between 802 CE to 1431 CE. Withdrawing from the kingdom of Chenla around 800 CE, the empire is known to have largely ruled in parts of modern-day Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and southern Vietnam.
See the fact file below for more information on the Khmer Empire or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Khmer Empire worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- In 7th century CE, the ancestors of the Khmer empire migrated and inhabited the territories of Cambodia through the Mekong river, known as the seventh longest river in the world.
- The original center of the Angkor civilization is thought to have been established around 1000 BC, along the great Tonle Sap Lake. Through a vastly improved and sophisticated irrigation system, the empire had further spread into the countryside.
- The people of Khmer are fond of celebrating various festivities and gatherings all year round. These traditions include wrestling, horse races, cockfights, fireworks, music, and dances that reflect their rich culture.
- Meanwhile, the Khmer society was a cosmopolitan fusion of Pali and Sanskrit rituals due to the influence of Hindu and Buddhist belief systems, which served as both the religious core and economic basis that led to the foundation of the empire.
- The entire Khmer society was deeply rooted in an extensive court system that includes religious and secular people such as artisans, fisherfolk, rice farmers, soldiers, and elephant keepers.
- The elites were primarily the ones who collect and redistribute taxes and temple inscriptions, following a detailed barter system.
- The female sector was responsible for the empire’s commerce.
- The Khmer recorded their religious and political foundations through Sanskrit writing which was inscribed on stelae and temple walls throughout the state.
- In 802 CE, Jayavarman II took the title chakravartin, or the universal monarch/ruler, which is considered to be the beginning of the foundation of the Khmer empire.
- He established the capital of Hariharalaya, or the modern-day Roluos, at the northern end of the Tonle Sap river.
- He also led a series of successful military campaigns that subjugated other small kingdoms which resulted in the establishment of a larger territorial state.
- Jayavarman II’s first three successors namely Indravarman I, Yasovarman I, and Jayavarman IV expanded the kingdom through massive infrastructure projects.
- Rajendravarman II (reigned 944-968) continued the extensive building projects initiated by the previous kings and also established a series of temples in Angkor. His son, Jayavarman V (reigned 967-1001), had likewise established a peaceful period full of prosperity and cultural developments.
- After the death of Jayavarman V, a conflict emerged throughout the kingdom, until Suryavarman I (reigned 1002-1049) ascended to the throne who also had a long-standing feud with Jayaviravarman (reigned 1002-1017), his rival king.
- In the 11th century, the power struggles among kings themselves and conflicts between kingdoms further developed. Under the reign of Suryavarman II (1113-1145), territorial conquests became even more evident as he battled with Mon kingdom, Bagan kingdom, Grahi kingdom, among many others.
- However, the reign of Jayavarman VII is deemed to be the peak of the Khmer empire. He is also known as the empire’s greatest king.
- He led the Khmer empire and ended victorious in a war with Cham (modern-day Vietnam), that invaded their kingdom and killed Suryavarman II.
- He also established the construction of Angkor Thom, a walled city, and Bayon, a spiritual temple, and other temples such as Ta Prohm and Preah Khan.
- He is considered to be the greatest of the Angkorian kings, not only because of the kingdom’s success under his reign, but also because he never became a tyrant ruler like his predecessors, and was able to unite his people.
- In total, there were about 31 rulers who served the Khmer Empire.
- The kingdom of Khmer is known to be a builder-society as it established various landscapes, monumental temples, and other architectural projects still present today.
- Indravarman I built the temple of Preah Ko. On the other hand, Yasovarman I constructed the new city of Yasodharapura and East Baray, a massive water reservoir that measures about 7.5 by 1.8 kilometers.
- Following this, Jayavarman IV also contributed his own construction and built a new capital at Koh Ker in the northeast of Angkor. Rajendravarman II built the temples of Pre Nup and East Mebon around the Angkor area during his reign.
- Under the rule of Jayavarman V, new temples were established like the Banteay Srei and Ta Keo, the first sandstone-built temple of Angkor.
- Meanwhile, Suryavarman I expanded the empire to the modern city of Lopburi and began the construction of West Baray, an even larger water reservoir than the previously established one.
- Around 1122 CE, Suryavarman II constructed the most stunning temple of the entire Khmer kingdom, the Angkor Wat, which serves as the microcosm of the Hindu universe, covering around 200 hectares.
- King Jayavarman VII initiated the construction of the walled city of Angkor Thom and spiritual temples such as the Bayon, Ta Prohm, and Preah Khan. These magnificent architectural masterpieces saw the transition of the Khmer empire from Hinduism to Mahayana Buddhism, and the Angkor Wat eventually became a Buddhist shrine.
- The great Thai migration of the 12th to 14th centuries CE saw the end and final collapse of the Khmer empire. They inhabited the northern parts of the empire starting from small groups until their number grew even bigger as they established themselves as settlers in marginal areas.
- As the Mongols took Yunnan in 1253 CE, the Thais were further pressured to migrate, eventually creating their small kingdoms, until 1431 CE when the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya invaded the Angkor and ended the Khmer empire.
Khmer Empire Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Khmer Empire across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Khmer Empire worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Khmer Empire which is one of the most important ancient civilizations in southeast Asia established between 802 CE to 1431 CE. Withdrawing from the kingdom of Chenla around 800 CE, the empire is known to have largely ruled in parts of modern-day Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and southern Vietnam.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Khmer Empire Facts
- The Khmer Territory
- The Khmer Rulers
- The Khmer Society
- The Khmer Empire: Its Culture in Pictures
- The Khmer Empire: A Timeline
- Jayavarman II: Chakravartin
- Angkor: The Khmer City
- The Khmer Empire: Chasing Temples
- The Khmer Empire’s Legacy
- The Angkor Empire
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Link will appear as Khmer Empire Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, October 17, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.