Passing Notes- page 2 | History | Smithsonian
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Passing Notes

Zhou Daguan, part of a group of diplomats from China that lived in Angkor from 1296 to 1297, recorded his thoughts on the area

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"In addition, take the case where two men are in dispute and no one knows who is right or who is wrong. In front of the royal palace, there are twelve small stone towers. Each of these two men is made to sit inside a tower, and the two men are watched over by their family members. They stay one or two days, or even three or four. When they come out, the person who is in the wrong is certain to have caught some sickness; either he has ulcers, or catarrh, or a malignant fever. The innocent person has nothing wrong with him. Thus they decide who is in the right and who the wrong; this is what they call ‘celestial judgment'. Such is the supernatural power of the god of this country."

On sickness:

"Some eight to nine out of ten here die from dysentery. As with us, medicines are sold in the markets, but they are very different from those in China, and I do not know any of them. There are also some sorts of sorcerers who practice their arts on people. This is completely ridiculous."

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