100 Fixing the Calendar 1582

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71  Heaven On Earth c.1150 
Almost 900 years ago a man named Suryavarman II tried to construct heaven on earth. He did not succeed. But the temple-mountain that his people built in what is now Cambodia is nothing short of miraculous. It would be an architectural feat even today to erect a seamless edifice with stones weighing as much as 8,000 pounds apiece. Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world, completed around 1150, was built without the use of mortar; it is held together by weight and friction. The complex is a sculpture of roughly a square mile. Its sandstone relief carvings--of Hindu legends and Khmer battle scenes--are among the world's finest. Perhaps its artistic influence would have been greater had the Khmer Empire, which once controlled much of Southeast Asia, not been weakened by its building frenzy and invaded by Thai forces in 1431. But Angkor Wat, now a Buddhist temple, still has as much power to transfix as a landing on Mars. 

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