Khmer Temples and the Astronomic True East

by Asger Mollerup

GPS-based field research on Khmer temples in Northeastern Thailand.


Published: 2012

Author: Asger Mollerup

Pages: 14

Language : English

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From various inscriptions, as well as from the tracing of the Royal Roads and the architectural prowesses at Angkor and elsewhere, we know that the Khmer in pre-Angkorian and Angkorian times had a strong command of astronomy and calculus.

The Hindu influence also meant that these ancient civilizations paid a particular attention to celestial events, the course of the planets being at the foundation of their cosmogony.

In this essay, the author shows that all of the 325 Khmer temples he studied are aligned to the "true East" cardinal point, with minor variations to the North-East or South-East in some cases. Sun-related events such as the winter and summer solstices were particularly taken into consideration while building these spiritual centers.

Tags: astronomy, solstice, architecture, archaeoastronomy

About the Author


Asger Mollerup

An independent researcher, Asger Mollerup (12 Aug 1949, Hobro, Denmark) specializes in ethno-linguistics, Khmer temples history and archaeo-astronomy, the discipline studying the way ancient cultures related to celestial events.

He has extensively studied hundreds of Khmer temples in Northern Thailand (Isan Province) and Cambodia, mainly their orientation in relation to the cardinal points and the position of the sun during the two annual solstices.

In Thailand, Asger Mollerup has developed several activities in cultural tourism since 1988. He lives in the Phu Phan Mountains, N-E Thailand, pursuing researches on Isan, Lao and Thai languages.