Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Cambodia home to Asia’s ancient ‘Land of Gold’?

Over two decades ago, in the remote reaches of Cambodia's Baset district, a group of villagers discovered a slab covered in ancient carvings, then three more. Soon they found themselves excavating the ruins of an ancient temple. What they found are clues to the location of the fabled ‘Land of Gold’, the ancient realm of Suvarnabhumi.
On one of the tablets an inscription praised King Isanavarman I of the Chenla Empire, dated to the year 633. “The great King Isanavarman is full of glory and bravery. He is the King of Kings, who rules over Suvarnabhumi until the sea, which is the border, while the kings in the neighbouring states honour his order to their heads.”  Many have puzzled over the whereabouts of Suvarnabhumi, with references dating back to ancient Buddhist accounts in the third century BC.
Most of the inscriptions, like many others found in Southeast Asia, praises the king for his godlike power and dominion over the land, but the mention of Suvarnabhumi directly is a surprise to researchers.

The thirst for gold formed a powerful incentive for explorers at the beginning of modern times; but the fabled 'Land of Gold' remains illusive.