Main article: Kingdom of Funan
At about the time that Western Europe was absorbing the classical culture and institutions of the Mediterranean, the people of mainland and insular Southeast Asia were responding to the stimulus of a civilization that had arisen in India during the previous millennium. The Indianization of Southeast Asia happened as a consequence of the increasing trade in the Indian Ocean. Vedic and Hindu religion, political thought, literature, mythology, and artistic motifs gradually became integral elements in local Southeast Asian cultures. The caste system was never adopted, but Indianization stimulated the rise of highly-organized, centralized states.
Funan, the earliest of the Indianized states, is generally considered to have been the first kingdom in the area. Found in the 1st century CE, Funan was located on the lower reaches of the Mekong River delta area, in what is today southeast Cambodia and the extreme south of Vietnam. Its capital, Vyadhapura, probably was located near the present-day town of Ba Phnom in Prey Veng Province. The earliest historical reference to Funan is a Chinese description of a mission that visited the country in the 3rd century. The name Funan is largely believed to derive from the old khmer word 'Phnom' meaning mountain. The Funanese were likely of Austroasiatic origin. What the Funanese called themselves, however, is not known.
During this early period in Funan's history, the population was probably concentrated in villages along the Mekong River and along the Tonle Sap River below the Tonle Sap. Traffic and communications were mostly waterborne on the rivers and their delta tributaries. The area was a natural