Angkor, the largest and most majestic pre-industrial city in the world, with a population of over a million, expanded and flourished for 600 years. But then it was suddenly abandoned by residents in the 15th century and turned into large-scale ruins. Recently, researchers from the University of Sydney (Australia) put forward a new theory about the causes of this tragedy. In the huge Angkor for several years, the water supply system fell into disrepair and the city was left without water.
Even the first archaeologists and researchers of Angkor noted that the city actually stands on an extensive system of canals, locks and reservoirs. From simple ditches to complex hydraulic structures, which were consistently built over the entire half-thousand years of the city's history. This helped to store moisture during drought and skillfully control the inflows of water during the monsoon, which ensured the lives of hundreds of thousands of townspeople and guests of Angkor.
Historical chronicles indicate that the city was destroyed by a double cataclysm: an unprecedented drought, which was replaced by a monstrous monsoon. Australian researchers built a model of the Angkor hydraulic system from 1, 013 canals and 617 butt joints, after which, during experiments, they found that the water supply began to collapse in the area of the primary catchment. The system collapsed tier by tier, on the domino principle, and the residents of the city had neither the time nor the technology to quickly repair it.
The main conclusion that scientists made from the tragedy of Angkor is that a huge city was destroyed by an overly complex water supply system. Ancient buildings coexisted with the latest machines, old maps were ignored when new canals were laid, the whole system was full of vulnerabilities, and every node depended catastrophically on the reliable operation of adjacent objects. Something similar can be seen today in every city over 100 years old, where infrastructure, at best, is repaired as it deteriorates instead of systemic restructuring taking into account new risks. This means that almost any metropolis today can repeat the fate of the legendary Angkor due to the expanding climate change.
Angkor engraved in 1868