Abbreviations and notes
AAP - Angkor Archaeological Park
AT - Angkor Thom
C.E. - Current Era. Roughly equivalent to A.D.
d - degrees (used to replace the usual degree symbol)
GC - Grand Circuit (The 'grand' or 'large' road circuit though
the main temple complex. Indicated in green on the map.)
PC - Petite Circuit (The 'petite' or 'small' road circuit though
the main temple complex. Indicated in red on the map.)
- The 'position' of the ruins listed on the individual temple
description pages is the position of the central tower or prasat
unless otherwise indicated.
Anastylosis Archaeological technique used in
reconstructing the temples ruins by dismantling and then
rebuilding. This technique was used on
and many other temples.
Angkor Angkor refers to the capital city of the Khmer
Empire that existed in the area of Cambodia between the 9th and
12th centuries CE, as well as to the empire itself.
Apsara Mythological a celestial nymph. Devatas (standing
female divinities), though technically different, are also
referred to as apsaras in this guide. Carved in abundance on
many of the temples.
Banteay (Khmer) 'fortress' or 'citadel'. Though not a
technical designation, it often indicates a monastic complex or
flat temple style.
Baray (Khmer) A ‘baray’ is a water reservoir - an
area of land where dikes have been raised to catch and hold
water. Beginning in the 9th century, the construction of massive
barays and other such grand projects became one of the marks of
Angkorian kingship. There are four major barays in the Park
area. When the barays were constructed, an island temple was set
at the center of each. The first major baray to be constructed
was Indratataka by King Yasovarman I, measuring 3.8km x 880m and
completed in 889AD when the capital was still at Hariharalaya
near Roluos. The
sat on an island in the middle of Indratataka. Construction of
the second major baray, the East Baray
(Yashodharatataka,) began almost immediately after the first. At
7.8km x 880m it was almost five times larger than the
Indratataka. Almost 50 years later, the temple
East Mebon was
constructed on an island in the center. The third and largest
baray (8km x 2.2km) is the West Baray built in the early
11th century. Unlike the other barays, the West Baray is
still partially filled, creating good sized lake. The temple
ruins of West Mebon sit on an artificial island at the
center of the baray (requiring a short boat ride to visit.) The
last baray (Jayatataka) was constructed by Jayavarman VII in the
late 12th century. It is considered to be the baray of Preah
Khan though it is Neak Pean that actually sits at the center.
The function of barays is a matter of academic debate. A recent
study has argued that the barays did not serve an agricultural
purpose but were built and maintained solely for
political/religious reasons. Conventional wisdom has it that the
barays were part of a giant water works used to irrigate the
rice paddies and provide water for year round cultivation,
though they certainly served a political and religious function
Boeung (Khmer) 'lake'. Also spelled ‘beng’.
Champa Neighboring Indianised state, contemporary with
Angkor. Located in the area of south central Vietnam.
Corbel arch False arch made from placing tiered,
progressively projecting corbels on opposite walls. Used
throughout Angkorian era construction.
Gopura The entrance-way or gate in the wall that
surrounds a temple.
Khmer The dominant ethnic group and the language of
ancient and modern Cambodia.
Linga A phallic symbol, representative of the god Shiva.
Lintel The sandstone block above doorways and windows,
often intricately carved.
Monastic complex General term referring to a temple that
has a relatively flat, sometimes sprawling architectural layout.
It may employ towers, but set at ground level, e.g.:
Naga Mythological, multi-headed snake/serpent. Naga
motifs are often used in balustrades.
Phnom (Khmer) 'hill' or 'mountain'.
Prasat (Khmer) 'tower'.
Preah (Khmer) 'sacred'.
Reamker Khmer telling of the Ramayana, a classic and much
loved epic tale from Hindu mythology - the adventures of Rama in
his quest to save his kidnapped wife, Sita, from Ravana. Images
from the Ramayana are carved on many temples including Angkor
Wat, and traditional dance performances in Siem Reap often
incorporate stories from the Ramayana.
Shiva One of the three primary gods of the Hindu trinity.
The ‘destroyer’. Central to the Angkor royal linga cult. Often
represented in the form of a linga.
Stele Inscribed stone tablet.
Stung (Khmer) 'river'
Temple-mountain A specific architectural design based on
the mythological mountain, Mt. Meru. Eg:
Thom (Khmer) 'big,' e.g.
-varman (Khmer) ‘protected by’. The suffix attached to the names
of Khmer kings, e.g.: Suryavarman, Jayavarman.
Vihear (Khmer) Main temple building of a Buddhist
pagoda or temple group. Houses the Buddha image.
Vishnu One of the three primary gods of the Hindu
trinity. The ‘protector’.
Wat Modern Buddhist pagoda or temple.