The Historical Meaning of the Royal Road Network in Late Angkor Period

Project Leader:MATSUURA, Fumiaki(Institute of Asian Cultures, Sophia University)

Collaborators: SALURAI, Yumio (The University of Tokyo, Professor Emeritus)
         SHIBAYAMA, Mamoru (Center for Integrated Area Studies,Kyoto University)
         TABATA, Yukitsugu (Asia Center for Research and Human Development, Sophia University)
         MIYAZAKI, Akiko (College of Literature, Department of Cross-Cultural Studies,
         Ibaraki Christian University)
         SATO, Keiko (Faculty of Foreign Studies, Sophia University)
         KOBAYASHI, Satoru (Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University)


Outline of Research:

The Royal Road and the ancient bridge of Angkor

The Royal Road and the ancient bridge of Angkor

In this collaborative research, we would like to demonstrate the tree structure of power in the late period of Angkor, after the end of 10th century, through synthesizing the knowledge from various disciplines (for example, philology, archaeology, art history and Baray studies) which are concerned with the relation between the central area of Angkor and the regional center of its domain. This research aims to clarify what was the meaning of the Royal Road and its transition. For this purpose, we intend to create a multi-disciplinary “Royal Road database” through several workshops and field research.



The resthouse (Ta Muen Toch, Thailand)

The resthouse (Ta Muen Toch, Thailand)

Through this research, the Angkor period, which lasted around six centuries, did not continue as an unchanging structure, but can be divided into two periods; between, before and after the end of 10th century. Between both periods, clear differences can be seen in the growth of regional bureaucracy, the expansion of commerce networks based on temple networks, the localization of Baray (which were first established in the capital of Angkor in the early period), differences of religion and art between some regions, and the distribution of the temple remains and relics along the Royal Road.

The research group thinks that these phenomena do not signify the separation of the regions from the capital, but the emergence of a tree like structure of power that was closely connected by the Royal Road network which stretched over an extensive part of the region. Therefore, our goal is to clarify the power structure of the late period of Angkor through elucidating the treelike structure of the Royal Road which lies in mainland Southeast Asia.

In previous studies, the Royal Road of Angkor was dealt with in relation to land expansion during the reign of king Jayavarman VII. However, there is no study that correlatively combined the netlike distribution of the Royal Road including regional phenomena such as temples, regional centers, Baray,and so forth. Thus, this research can provide a new contributory multi-regional/ multi-disciplinary viewpoint.

Results are expected in the following areas 1) to make up a chronological map of the Royal Road distribution, 2) to clarify the political, economic, religious complex structure at each regional center through making up a database of inscriptions, Baray, remains and relics that were discovered within the regional center of the network,3) and to frame the “Royal Road database” combining the satellite information and above results.