Sundial, calendar and Khmer temples


Prasat Sdok Kok Thom

Dating the inscription (K.235)

1051 or 1053?

''From rising to rising of the sun, that is called civil (savana) reckoning.
By that are determined the civil days (savana),
and by these is the regulation of the time of sacrifice:''
(Surya Siddhanta, chapter XIX, verse 18)

3.0: DATE

3.1: Translations of Inscription K. 235, stanza 123:

3.1.1: Aymonier (1901, p. 52):
''... erected in 974 ...'' [Saka] ... ''the date is preceded by the positions of the planets in the Zodiac''

3.1.2: Briggs (1951, p. 170): ''In 1052 ...''

3.1.3: Coedes and Dupont (1943, p. 56-154): ''... when ''the sun and the other planets (respectively in) Aquarius, Virgin, Libra, Aquarius, Aquarius, Pisces, Aquarius, Aquarius, and Pisces. The horoscope in Sagittarius. Bhava was erected in the year marked by the (9) orifices, the (7) mountains and the (4) Vedas.'' (my translation). The numbers stand for Saka Era, year 974.

3.1.4: Billard (ref.?): 8th of February 1053.

3.1.5: Golzio, (2006, p. 153): 1st of February 1051 AD at 06.00...
„Im Jahr, das durch die Öffnungen (9), die Berge (7) und die Veden ([hier:] 3) gekennzeichnet ist, als die Sonne und die anderen Planeten sich im Aquarius, halb in der Virgo [Mond], in Libra [Mars], in Aquarius [Merkur], in einem Paarzeichen ([hier]: Aries) [Jupiter], Pisces [Venus], Aquarius [Saturn], Virgo [Rāhu] und Pisces [Ketu] befanden, im Aszendenten Sagittarius, wurde hier (eine Statue des) Bhava errichtet."


Aufgrund der Planetenpositionen muß es sich bei der Jahreszahl um 973 handeln, obwohl die Veden in den meisten Fällen für die Zahl „4“ stehen, außerdem ist ein laufendes Jahr gemeint; kuca, die weiblichen Brüste, stehen offensichtlich nicht nur für das naheliegende Zeichen Gemini, sondern für jedes Zodiakalzeichen, in dem Paarsymbole erscheinen wie die Hörner von Widder und Stier, die Scheren des Krebses u. a. Von mir wurde früher (siehe Golzio, „Die Gründung von Angkor“, S. 135) irrtümlich der 8. Februar 1053 angegeben, was aber lediglich auf der Annahme eines abgelaufenen Jahres 974 ohne Berücksichtigung der Planetenpositionen geschah.

Um 6.00 h Ortszeit befand sich die Sonne in Aquarius (317°_49'), der Mond halb in Virgo (162°_53'), Mars in Libra (186°_12'), Merkur in Aquarius (312°_58'), Jupiter in Aries (16°_13'), Venus in Pisces (345°_8') und Saturn in Aquarius (314°_39')

[Note that Golzio uses 3 for the amount of the Vedas, uses elapsed year and thereby reaches 1051 as the year of consecration, he also without explanation gives the planetary order as  Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu, and where Coedes has the 5th Zodiacal sign as Aquarius, Golzio has Aries]

Translation: Sun in Aquarius (317°_49'), the Moon mid-Virgo (162°_53'), Mars in Libra (186°_12'), Mercury in Aquarius (312°_58'), Jupiter in Aries (16°_13'), Venus in Pisces (345°_8') and Saturn in Aquarius (314°_39')



3.1.6: Eade (personal communication):

3.2: Calculations on the date:  

     On my web-page Prasat Sdok Kok Thom at Equinox it it demonstrated how various astronomy programs (whether based on ancient or modern parameters) give nearly similar output when we use input as Saka 974, the sun in Aquarius, and the moon in Virgo: 6th to 9th February and that when we use the information from the inscription on the location of the planets, then only the Siddhantic programs as HIC and Pancanga are reliable, and result in the consecration day to be 8 Feb. 1053 AD.

     Barth calculated the consecration day to be 8 February 1053 nearly a century ago and the date has been widely accepted since. Even Golzio accepted the date in his earlier publications, but later launched an alterative date based on an alternative translation of the Sanskrit text in K. 235: 1 February 1051 at 06.00 (2006, p. 153).

8 February 1053 or 1 February 1051?
     The inscription lists the Zodiacal signs where the planets are located at the moment of consecration, but does not explicitly mention the chronology of planets. Eade and Golzio apparently only agree on one thing: That the chronology of the planets follow the weekdays.































Zodiacal sign - Coedes










Zodiacal sign - Eade





Gemini (kuca)





Zodiacal sign - Golzio





Aries (kuca)





Table I
: T
he first 3 rows show the chronology of the weekdays/deities/planets; the last 3 rows show 3 translations of the Sanskrit text.

  The chronologies in table I are inserted in table II


Table II

The planets in the Coedes-column are added in weekday chronology (table I).
The planetary locations in the columns Eade, Coedes, and Golzio are given by the various authors.
The planetary locations in the columns Pancanga, HIC, and Modern values are achieved by me using of the various programs. The Pancanga and HIC are computerizations of the Surya Siddhanta and give similar but not identical results.
Parameters used in Pancanga: Without Bija, 13 N, 104 E, Verbose.
Parameters used in HIC (Indian Luni-Solar Calendar Program): Suryasiddhanta (old), a13 N, 104 E, Julian, true.
Modern values (parameters): Modern values for longitudes achieved by using a modern desk-top astronomy program (local coordinates: GPS, local time: 12.00).


Computation: Two concepts
     Use of modern or ancient parameters demonstrates two different concepts, where Eade with reason argues that the ancient Indian and Khmer calendar makers used the ancient parameters and that we should do the same if we want to know how they thought where the planets were positioned at a given time. Golzio’s computer out-puts are so close to 'modern values', that one could suspect him for using a desktop program based on modern parameters (Jupiter: 16°13' / 16°14' etc.).
     On 1st of February 1051 Mercury and Saturn were so close to the sun (rising app. 12 minutes before the sun) that they were not observable (heliacal rising); the only option would have been to calculate the position by contemporary means; the Surya Siddhanta. The other planets and the moon were all clearly visible at the night-time.
     The 8th of February 1053 Mercury and Saturn set observable app. 50 minutes after sunset. The other planets and the moon were all clearly visible at the night-time. In February the sky is mostly without clouds.

The major discrepancies in table II are the locations of Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Rahu, and Ketu:

Golzio gives Mars to be 6° 12' inside Libra. A modern planetarium program gives Mars to be in Libra; but the Siddhantic programs give Mars to be in Virgo.

Coedes / Barth: Aquarius
Eade: Gemini
Golzio: Aries
     The differences are due to different interpretations of the Sanskrit word kuca, meaning ‘the female breast’.
     Golzia comment as adequate not only for Gemini but for any zodiacal sign with a pair-symbol such as ‘the horns of the ram, the claws of a crab, etc.’. Etc. can be extended to the horns of the Bull (Taurus), the ears of the lion (Leo), the scales of Libra, the claws of Scorpio, the horns of Capricorn, the testicles of Sagitarius, etc. – actually most or all zodiacal signs, the choice is up to where one wants to place Jupiter.
     Eade suggests that Coedes' Aquarius actually is Gemini: ''The reading of the horoscope is complicated by the fact that stana means ‘breast’ and so by that token might be though to apply more naturally to Virgo than to any other sign. It had in the past been taken, with kuca, to refer to Aquarius, but the position here and in K 94(3) indicates Gemini, the principle being that the overall accuracy of planetary position in the record takes precedence over speculation about obscure synonyms. Moreover in K 94(3), stana could not possibly intend Virgo because that would place Mercury an impossible four signs away from the sun. (Eade, 2006, p. 25).

Eade: Aquarius. The Pancanga confirms this location, but HIC gives Mercury to be in conjunction with Venus in neighboring Pisces.
Coedes: Aquarius.
Golzio: Aquarius, which is in accordance with HIC, Pancanga, and modern values.

Eade: ''Rāhu and Ketu are not entered and in any case would not be diagnostic here'' (Eade, 2006, p. 26), but on the horoscope on the same page Rahu is located together with Jupiter in Gemini; which corresponds with the out-put of the Siddhantic programs.
Coedes: Pisces. The Siddhantic programs gives Rahu to be in Gemini - 3 signs away.
Golzio: Virgo. The Siddhantic programs gives Rahu to be in Cancer - 2 signs away.
NB: I cannot determine the location of Rahu using modern parameters.

Eade: ''Rāhu and Ketu are not entered and in any case would not be diagnostic here'' (Eade, 2006, p. 26).
Coedes: Aquarius, which is 1 not 6 signs away from Rahu.
Golzio: Pisces. Golzio has probably located Ketu in Pisces because this is 6 signs away (opposite) from Cancer, where he has calculates Rahu to be. Rahu and Ketu are often referred to as the nodes of the moon located 180° apart.
NB: I cannot determine the location of Ketu using modern parameters.
1. Ketu is not mentioned in the Surya Siddhanta.
2. Eade (2006, p.25), quoting Faraut, argues that ''... the revolution period of Rāhu was 6795 days but that of Ketu was 679 days (p. 261), making it an entirely fictional entity revolving ten times too fast. This was admittedly a parameter of f.638, but it is sufficient to be at least a warning for the earlier period that the location of Ketu in a rāśi not opposite to Rahu would not ipso facto be an error.''

The year:
     The year is ''marked by the orifices, the mountains and the Vedas''; which Coedes and others translate as 974 (4 for the 4 Vedas). What seems like a forced attempt by Golzio to reach his alternative dating, he translates 'Vedas' as 3 (!)

Argumentation for 8 February 1053 to be the consecration date:
 The Vedas are always counted as four; not three. The Saka year was meant to be 974.
The argumentation for identifying kuca (breasts) with Aries is too thin as all zodiacal signs have pair-attributes. The most obvious pair-sign is Gemini.
3. The location of Ketu opposite Rahu has no base in the Surya Siddhanta and other Siddhantas use different values for Rahu and Ketu.
4. Golzio gives Mars to be located in Libra; Siddhantic calculations give it to be in Virgo.
5. Golzio apparently uses modern astronomical parameters instead of ancient Siddhantic parameters. Dating ancient Khmer inscriptions should follow contemporary astronomical concept: The Surya Siddhanta, which in 11th century Kambuja had been in use for centuries.

Aymonier, E.: Khmer Heritage in the Old Provinces of Cambodia, Paris, 1901.
Briggs, L.P.: The Ancient Khmer Empire, Washington, 1951.
Coedes, G. and Dupont, P.: Les stèles de Sdŏk Kăk Thom, Phnom Sandak et Práh Vihăr”, BEFEO XLIII, 1943.
Golzio, K.H.: Chronologie der Inschriften Kambojas. Verifizierung und Umrechnung von Datumsangaben der Śaka-Ära. Weisbaden, 2006.
Eade, J.C.: Computers vs Tables, Billard vs Golzio: Two new date-lists of the inscriptions of Kamboja, Canberra, 2006.
Burges, Ebenezer
Surya-Siddhanta . A Textbook of Hindu Astronomy. India, 1858. (From: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 6, 1959-60. Page 141-498)
K.235 online In Thai จารึกสด๊กก๊อกธม ๒ จารึกสด๊กก๊อกธม ๑
K.235 online In French
K.235 online In English: Cornell University.
Yano, M and Fushimi M. Pancanga:, version 3.13. On-line Siddhantic parameters
Gislen, L. and Eade, J.C. HIC: version 1.0. Free downloadable Siddhantic parameters
Ott, R.C. Astronomic Clock version 10 Modern parameters
Schimpf, M.S. Cybersky Version 4.0.6. Planetarium Modern parameters




24 April 2009 © Asger Mollerup

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