K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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ca. 1–500s CE
Lower Mekong River society called Funan is mentioned in Chinese records. (Funan may be transcription of Khmer word phnom, meaning “hill.”)
ca. 500s–700s CE
Hindu Mekong kingdom of Khmers called Zhenla (or Chenla) by the Chinese supercedes Funan.
ca. 770–834 CE
Jayavarman II unifies Khmers in Angkor region, freeing them from rule of “Java” (exact location of “Java” not certain).
Jayavarman II enthroned under Hindu rites as devaraja, or “god-king”; establishes Khmer empire.
Rajendravarman builds Banteay Srei Temple.
Suryavarman I reigns.
1113–ca. 1145
Suryavarman II reigns and builds Angkor Wat dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu.
Hindu Chams invade and pillage Angkor kingdom.
Jayavarman VII, who defeats Chams, ascends to throne; Khmer empire at greatest extent, incorporating regions of present-day Laos, Burma, and Thailand; king follows Mahayana Buddhism, begins building city of Angkor Thom with Bayon Temple.
Jayavarman VIII enthroned; returns to Hinduism; many Buddha statues destroyed.
Under influence from kingdoms to the west, Theravada Buddhism wins royal and popular allegiance. Pali replaces Sanskrit as sacred language; wood replaces brick and stone as building medium.
Thais sack kingdom at Angkor.
Khmer rulers move capital southeast near present capital, Phnom Penh.
Siam king attacks, and Khmer become vassal kingdom to Siam.
Viets conquer Mekong Delta; weaker Khmer kingdom assumes roughly modern borders of Cambodia.
Viets attack and share increasing control over Khmers with Siam kingdom.
French intervene militarily and Cambodia becomes French protectorate. The region becomes part of French Indochina along with Vietnam and Laos. French colonial capital located at Phnom Penh.
World War II; Japanese fight Allies for control over Southeast Asia and Pacific.
Independence from French; Kingdom of Cambodia under Prince Norodom Sihanouk who abdicates throne to become elected President.
Coup against Sihanouk establishes General Lon Nol as President of a U.S.-backed regime called the Khmer Republic.
Khmer Republic under Lon Nol allows U.S. bombing inside Cambodian borders to fight Vietcong; Sihanouk, in exile in China, joins forces with North Vietnamese as well as ascending Cambodian communists called Khmer Rouge.
Khmer Rouge forces led by Pol Pot capture capital of Phnom Penh.
Khmer Rouge rule what they call Democratic Kampuchea. Intellectuals and those who worked for prior government are killed. All Phnom Penh residents are deported to countryside for slave labor; massive death toll from murder and starvation occurs in northwest Cambodia; bloody purges attempt to eliminate all dissidents. Nearly two million citizens die. Khmer Rouge attacks over Vietnamese borders lead to a military invasion from now unified and well-armed Communist Vietnam.
Vietnamese troops invade and overthrow Pol Pot’s regime.
People’s Republic of Kampuchea; fragmented coalition government is formed where Vietnamese puppets compete for power with former Khmer Rouge officers and Sihanouk supporters. Cambodia begins long recovery process for former refugees who fled to Thailand and other traumatized citizens.
Vietnam officially withdraws from Cambodia.
Khmer Rouge outlawed by Cambodian National Assembly
Pol Pot, former leader of Khmer Rouge, dies in forest hideout, never brought to trial.
Elderly King Sihanouk turns monarchy over to son, King Sihamoni, but real political power is held by elected President Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge officer.