Exploring Cambodia’s Lost Temples

The Indiana Jones story of a lost civilization on the Thai-Cambodia border.

View this gallery: Stories in Stone

We all know Rome, the Roman empire. We may dream of Machu Pichu and the Incans, or Beijing’s Forbidden City, Egypt’s pyramids, or the Rosetta Stone.

But in the jungle on the Thai-Cambodian border, deep in Southeast Asia, my guest today stumbled on an ancient, vine-covered temple that took him into another world — of Angkor Wat and the great Khmer empire of a thousand years ago. It was a Hindu empire that turned to the Buddha, that tried to bring heaven to Earth. Khmers long before the Khmer Rouge.

Today, we look at a civilization carved in stone.

-Tom Ashbrook


John Burgess, longtime writer and editor for the Washington Post. He first came to know the Sdok Kok Thom temple in 1979 while covering the exodus of refugees from Cambodia following the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge. His new book is “Stories in Stone: The Sdok Kok Thom Inscription & the Enigma of Khmer History.”

Khatharya Um, professor of Asian studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Closing segment:

We speak with one of the founders of a pioneering band that fuses Cambodian pop and Western indie rock.

Guest: Ethan Holtzman, co-founder and musician for the band “Dengue Fever.”

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