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Cultures of the Mekong

Weekend All-Day Lecture/Seminar

Saturday, October 30, 2021 - 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0632
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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Materials for this program

Face of the Bayon in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Civilizations have risen and fallen for centuries on the banks of the Mekong River. Long before there was Phnom Penh, Hanoi, or Vientiane there were the settlements at Angkor, Cham, and Ban Chiang in the areas now known as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.  Robert DeCaroli, associate professor in the department of history and art history at George Mason University, investigates the cultures that emerged along this massive 2,700-mile-long river.

10–11:15 a.m.  Thailand and Laos

The Mekong that borders the Laotian capital of Vientiane, as well as its tributaries, draws water from Thailand's north and east. Although Thailand's greatest states grew along the Chao Phraya River, the Khorat Plateau was home to some of the nation’s earliest civilizations, including the Ban Chiang and Dvaravati. Explore the sparsely recorded and often-elusive history of the region, whose early contributions to later civilizations are often overlooked.

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.  Cambodia

The great empire of the Khmer god-kings of Angkor, the art and architecture of the Angkorian period, and the French colonial capital of Phnom Penh.

12:30-1:00 p.m.  Break

1:00-2:30 p.m.  Vietnam and Champa

Although now part of Vietnam, this rich delta region on the southern edge of Southeast Asia was first home to the ancient civilization known as Funan. Over time, the land became the home of the Cham people, whose kingdom of Champa developed and declined over centuries. Trace the early civilization of the Cham, and their eventual fall to the state of Dai Viet. Today, the Mekong’s waters here are populated by colorful floating markets, and the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are the legacy of these previous eras.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.