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Angkor Wat is a Hindu temple in the Angkor region of Cambodia, located near the city of Siem Reap. 

It was built by King Suryavarman II (1113-1150) and is a model of Khmer architecture at the highest level. It is the best preserved archaeological site. At first it was Hindu and was dedicated to Vishnu, and then it was Buddist. 

It became a symbol of Cambodia that appears on the flag of the country and is the main attraction for visitors. Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the mountain temple and then the temple, based on the specific architecture of South Hindu India, with key features such as Jagat.

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The king ordered the construction of the gigantic building starting simultaneously from four sides, for the work to be completed in less than 40 years. The assumption is that most likely it would be a mausoleum, a place where the king could be worshiped after death. In fact, unlike most Khmer temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west. 

This detail has led several researchers (including Glaize and George Coedès) to the conclusion that the temple was intended to serve as a funerary monument. Further support for this view is provided by reliefs that run counterclockwise, direction that is opposite to normal order. Rituals take place in reverse order during Brahman funeral services. The main entrance is located to the west, as in funerary temples, and not east, as commonly used in Hindu temples.

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New findings

On 9 December 2015 at the University of Sydney, researchers announced that the archaeological site of Angkor Wat is much larger and more complex than assumed so far.

Using new techniques, the laser scanning system Airborne Laser Scanner (A.L.S.), a device developed for the study of architectural elements and territory, they developed a map of the temple. They announced the discovery of a new unique structure at the south of the resort, right at its limit.

“This structure whose dimensions exceed 1,500 x 600 meters is, by far, the most striking discovery made at Angkor Wat. No one knows its exact function and so far there is nothing similar like this.” according to Professor Roland Fletcher, from the department of archeology.

In addition, apart from the discovery of buried towers, a network of roads, ponds and barricades, researchers have found that this area was not inhabited that much.

“This discovery calls into question our conventional understanding of social hierarchy in the community and show that Angkor Wat temple, bordered by ditches and walls, could not be the exclusive domain of the rich or the elite priests,” said dr. Fletcher.

The third element highlighted by new research shows that, around 1585, Angkor Wat was fortified with wooden structures, evidence that the occupants of the complex made a last attempt to protect themselves.

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