Angkor Wat was both a Hindu temple and a
city.  It was from here that kings ruled over a
vast territory extending from southern Vietnam
up to China.  This is the gate as it looked in the
 12th century, including gold.  The things that
 look like legs around the gate are elephant tusks.
As it looks today.  Most of the city had been
covered in jungle for nine centuries until the
 French started digging it out in 1907.  Now it is
 a  UNESCO World Heritage site with teams
 worldwide helping in restoration.  Some 
buildings have completely collapsed, and 
archeological teams are carefully sorting and
 numbering pieces to put them back together.
When the jungle takes over, it takes OVER.
The elements are the enemy here – rain,
 hurricanes and jungle, especially strangler figs.
Cambodia is just downright soupy, with a very
high water table.  In order to preserve Angkor
Wat, the design included a huge moat.  Hundreds
of thousands of people were involved in primitive
construction.  Workers motivated by spiritual
reward moved the equivalent of 200,000 dump
trucks of earth just for the moat, which helps
absorb runoff during heavy rain.  The moat 

surrounds the central city and the main temples,
but the dimensions of the city extend well 
beyond this photo.  When fully restored,
it is expected to be the largest religious site
in the world.  As it is now, Vatican city
would fit in it five times over.


No binder or cement was used in the dovetail
construction.  Made from sandstone and natural
resin, they used water to float supplies, bamboo
 scaffolding and elephants for labor.  Modern
reconstruction is being done with fiberglass.

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