Construction sequence of the Koh Ker monuments in Cambodia deduced from the chemical composition and magnetic susceptibility of its laterites

Etsuo Uchida*, Kojiro Tsuda, Ichita Shimoda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Koh Ker, one of the provincial cities of the Khmer Empire, was located approximately 85 km northeast of the Angkor monuments. The temples in the Koh Ker monuments were mainly constructed from laterite, sandstone and brick between 921 and 944 AD. The laterites used in the Koh Ker monuments are difficult to classify based on their appearance. However, using a portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer it was possible to distinguish two distinct types of laterite based on Sr content. Results: Laterite blocks used in construction of the Koh Ker monuments either had a low Sr content of less than 300 ppm or a high Sr content of greater than 400 ppm. Significant quantities of quartz were observed in the low Sr content laterites, whereas the high Sr content laterites had relatively low quartz content. Differences in the magnetic susceptibility also were observed for these laterites. Using both Sr contents and magnetic susceptibilities of the laterite blocks, in combination with the assumption that the construction site proceeded in an outward manner, we identified five distinct laterite types associated with different stages of construction. Conclusions: Five different stages of construction were identified in the buildings of the Koh Ker monuments; each stage is characterized by a different laterite source rock. We believe that the brick sanctuaries are the oldest buildings, followed by the sandstone sanctuaries, while the laterite sanctuaries were constructed last. The laterite blocks with high Sr content were likely supplied from quarries around the Srayang village, which is located immediately to the south of the Koh Ker monuments; provenance of the low Sr content laterites is yet to be determined.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10
JournalHeritage Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Apr 25


  • Cambodia
  • Chemical composition
  • Construction sequence
  • Koh ker monuments
  • Laterite
  • Magnetic susceptibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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