Solstice Alignments at Angkor Wat and Nearby Temples

Connecting to the Cycles of Time


  • William F. Romain Independent scholar



Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Khmer, Preah Khan of Kompong Svay, solstice alignments


Built in the early twelfth century AD, Angkor Wat is one of the world's largest ancient religious structures. Each year, thousands of visitors make the pilgrimage to Angkor Wat to witness the equinox sunrise over the temple's lotus-shaped towers. In addition to the equinox alignment, however, there are other alignments at Angkor Wat and many of the surrounding temples. In this article, multiple solstice alignments are identified for Angkor Wat and 11 nearby temples: Bakong, Phnom Bakheng, Phnom Bok, Phnom Krom, East Mebon, Pre Rup, Banteay Srei, Ta Keo, Baphuon, Preah Khan and Bayon. Subsequent to ground and aerial reconnaissance of the above sites, archaeoastronomical assessments were made using Google Earth Pro, with solstice azimuths calculated using standard protocols. More than 70 solstice alignments were thus identified. The multiplicity of solstice alignments, combined with other data, suggest that it was important for Angkor temples to be connected to the Sun. If, as endorsed here, Angkor temples were microcosmic models of the cosmos, then arguably, solstice alignments connected the temples to the cyclic movement of the cosmos as manifested by the solar cycle.

Author Biography

William F. Romain, Independent scholar

William F. Romain, PhD (University of Leicester, 2004) is an archaeologist specializing in archaeoastronomy and ancient religions. He is past research associate with the Newark Earthworks Center, The Ohio State University and has conducted fieldwork in China, Inner Mongolia, Cambodia, Tibet, and the United States. He is a Fellow of The Explorer’s Club, licensed private pilot, and author of three books and numerous articles.


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How to Cite

Romain, W. F. (2019). Solstice Alignments at Angkor Wat and Nearby Temples: Connecting to the Cycles of Time. Journal of Skyscape Archaeology, 4(2), 176-200.



Research Articles