Google Earth reveals the secret of Angkor Wat’s construction

The Cambodian Hindu temple of Angkor Wat was built using 5-10 million enormous sandstone blocks, some weighing nearly two tons, but no one has ever definitively explained how the blocks were moved from the nearby mountain to the location of the temple. Thanks to Google Earth, we may finally have the answer.


As explained in the Huffington Post:

Researchers report in a paper in press at the Journal of Archaeological Science that when they examined Google Earth maps of the area, they saw lines that looked like a transportation network. Field surveys revealed that the lines are a series of canals, connected by short stretches of road and river, that lead from the quarries straight to Angkor. The roads and canals–some of which still hold water–would’ve carried blocks from the 9th century to the 13th century on a total journey of 37 kilometers or so. The researchers don’t know whether the blocks would’ve floated down the canals on rafts or via some other method.

It seems like a solid theory, and might very well be the answer. For a bit more on Angkor Wat, go check out the various 3D models that are available, or simply fly there using this KML file.
Check out the full article and then share your thoughts below. Does this really explain how the blocks were moved?

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. If you want to gig a little deeper in 3d models of Angkor Wat, I suggest taking a look at Cyark’s laser scanning project.
    They even have an interactive LiDAR point cloud of a famous Gopura Tower in the temple Banteay Kdei.

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