History Files

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 175

Target: 400

Totals slider

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.

Far East Kingdoms

South East Asia


Ampil Rolum (Pre-Angkor Cambodia & Vietnam)
c.AD 713? - 802?

Coastal areas of South-East Asia had already emerged into early regional history by the time the Sa Huỳnh culture of central and southern Vietnam was fading, around the beginning of the third century AD. To the south, the Óc Eo culture flourished as the archaeological expression of the kingdom of Funan.

The history of this early state is extremely patchy but in its late stages - in the early sixth century AD - its dominance was confirmed in the provinces of the middle Mekong. It may have been the usurpation of the Funanese throne by Rudravarman in AD 514 which resulted in discontent becoming apparent here. A movement was led by Bhavavarman and Chitrasena in which they managed to form a principality of their own which was known to the Chinese as Chen-La.

The last vestiges of Funan were removed in 627 during this pre-Angkor period of South-East Asian history. North-eastern Funan territory was gradually absorbed into the growing Cham domains. The remainder was absorbed into Chen-La. However, Chen-La experienced its own internal problems towards the end of the 600s and into the early 700s. By 713 it can be seen that the state had become divided into Upper Chen-La and Lower Chen-La. Each of these two regions had their own king or queen.

Chen-La's cities also had their own governors during the early seventh century under Isanavarman, as attested by the Sui history of the region. Later holders of such offices most likely became princes during Chen-La's troubles at the start of the 700s.

Indeed, something which becomes entirely apparent in the eighth century is the existence of several city-state principalities within the two Chen-Las, and seemingly mainly (or completely) within Lower Chen-La. These city states seem to have possessed a level of local independence while still most likely acknowledging Chen-La as an overlord.

Ampil Rolum was one such principality, although very little is known of it, even to the extent of its semi-independent existence. Only one ruler is known by name and even that name is only a partial survival. The city itself, however, is one of the most extensive surviving centres from this period. Located about thirty-five kilometres to the south-west of Chen-La's capital of Isanapura, it incorporates three brick sanctuaries with fine sandstone lintels and an inscription which is dated to the seventh or eighth century AD.

A later ruler of Lower Chen-La, Jayavarman II, asserted his independence between 802-809. He united his territory with the Upper Chen-La which was ruled by his wife, Jayendrabha. He also swiftly incorporated other rival fiefdoms into this new state which must have included Ampil Rolum and the other semi-independent states. His new state would emerge as the Khmer empire.

Cambodia's historic past

(Information by Peter Kessler and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information from Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopaedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor, Keat Gin Ooi (ABC-Clio, 2004), from Early Mainland Southeast Asia, C Higham (River Books Co, 2014), from Encyclopaedia of Ancient Asian Civilizations, Charles F W Higham (Facts on File, 2004), from The Khmer Empire (National Geographic supplement, July 2009), from Historical Atlas of the World, R R Palmer (Ed, Chicago, 1963), from The Birth of Vietnam, Keith Weller Taylor (California, 1983), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica, and The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, George Coedès (Walter F Vella (Ed), Susan Brown Cowing (Trans), University of Hawaii Press, 1968, and available online via the Internet Archive).)


In the early eighth century, Chen-La is apparently divided into Upper Chen-La ('Land' Chen-La) and Lower Chen-La ('Water' Chen-La). They appear to be equal in rank and without a boundary, suggesting that they are still under a single ruler, or at least are somehow federated.

Mekong Delta
Now due to disappear beneath the sea by about 2100, the Mekong delta played an important part in the development of early Cambodia and Vietnam

Queen Jayadevi's reign is reputed to be opposed. She is known to reign until 713, but her fate is not known and the state is certainly divided by the end of her reign.

It is also increasingly being threatened by the Shailendra dynasty of Java, and appears to fragment to an extent, allowing individual principalities to emerge (especially in Lower Chen-La) such as that at Ampil Rolum.

fl c. 700 - 800


Rest of name lost. Ruled Ampil Rolum.

One inscription survives for Ampil Rolum which states that a ruler by the partially-surviving name of -aditya (meaning 'the rising sun') rules this city which is overseen by the greater city of Bhavapura (location uncertain).

802 - 809

Jayavarman II, ruler of Lower Chen-La, is a vassal of the Sumatran state of Sri Vijaya. He asserts his independence in 802, unites his state with the Upper Chen-La which is ruled by his wife, Jayendrabha and, on the plain near the site of the future Angkor, builds his capital of Harlharalaya.

Mahabalipuram Temple
Between about 802-809 Jayavarman II of Lower Chen-La unified the region, shrugged off his overlords on Sumatra, and established his capital at Harlharalaya (shown here) to found the beginnings of the Khmer empire

With strong support from Aninditapura, he is declared the universal monarch, chakravartin ('supreme king of kings' - effectively high king over many minor kings) on the Kulen Hills. Chen-La retains its identity until at least 809 but the other principalities within the region are quickly incorporated into his new state, no doubt including Ampil Rolum, Canasapura (perhaps a little later), and Vyadhapura.

In a very short span of time Jayavarman II brings under his rule much of what is now Cambodia, southern Thailand, southern Laos, and much of south-western Vietnam, forging the beginnings of the Khmer empire.

Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original king list page for the History Files.