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The Khmers were first noticed by the Chinese when they began to occupy neighbouring maritime territories, Champa and Funan; their own recorded history commences with inscriptions from the 5th century onward. They soon extended their power northwards and westwards, eventually occupying almost the whole area of present-day Thailand. At every advance new temple-fortresses were built and the circumstances of their foundation inscribed in Sanskrit and in Khmer: the source of the history of the Khmers up to the 14th. The Thai advance from the north was largely responsible for their subsequent contraction; Hinduism and the Mahayana Buddhism favoured by the old Khmer aristocracy, was replaced by the Theravada Buddhism of Burma and Thailand. The result of 10 years of research, this is an authoritative description of the rise and eventual fall of the Khmer empire. Colour illustrations, not only of the better known monuments but of many of the more obscure sites complement the text.