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Rumors of a "lost city" in the jungles of Cambodia had been intriguing European visitors for decades when a French explorer named Henri Mouhot brought Angkor to the world's attention in 1858. The find caused a well-justified sensation.

Once the royal seat of the wealthy and advanced Khmer Empire, Angkor boasted two monumental temple complexes, the most famous of which is Angkor Wat.

The serenely beautiful Angkor Wat was centered on the worship of the god-king who built it as his final resting place.

Based on religious concepts adapted from India, Angkor and its components were models of the universe.

Systems of resevoirs, canals and moats served the practical purpose of irrigation but also reflected the symbolic concept of an ocean surrounding a central mountain.

Flourishing for almost five hundred years, Angkor still awed travelers in the late 1200's. Not many years later, however, it was abandoned to the encroaching jungle.

Henri Mouhot had pursued an eclectic career as a young man, teaching classical studies in Russia and traveling across Europe investigating Daguerre's photographic techniques. Zoographical studies in England and his eagerness to travel earned him the patronage of the Royal Geographical Society.

It was while exploring the natural history of the Mekong River that he discovered Angkor. He died of jungle fever in 1861.

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