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Sun-Earth Day Presents: Ancient Observatories, Timeless Knowledge

Angkor Wat

The builders of Angkor Wat were not interested in creating a temple merely to honor their deities. They created in its very structure and orientation, a reminder of the greater cosmic order, reflected in both the passage of time, and in the changing rays of the sun at propitious times of the year.


Latitude 13°25'48'' N longitude100°54'00'' E


In 1976, University of Michigan researchers suggested that the architect of ancient Cambodia's Angkor Wat had encoded calendrical, historical and cosmological themes into his architectural plan for the temple. Published in the journal Science, the study demonstrated how Angkor Wat's architect had established solar alignments between the temple and a nearby mountaintop shrine that took place during the summer solstice. For example, standing at Pre Rup 6 kilometers away at winter solstice, one would see the setting sun over Angkor Wat. Standing near the southwestern corner in Angkor Thom the rising sun at summer equinox will be visible through, or over, the eastern gate. Six months late, the alignment has shifted to its northern point of sunrise at winter solstice.


Image Gallery:

Angkor Wat gallery imageAngkor Wat gallery image

Photo Credit:

Contact Andy Brouwer for more images and permissions.

Technology Through Time Bulletin Board Activity

This bulletin board activity is designed to focus student attention on the role that sun watching has played in humankind's survival through time. As part of this display you may wish to use your own world map ordownload one we have created for you.

Related Angkor Wat Links