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Coedès was born in Paris to a family of supposed Hungarian-Jewish émigrés. In fact, the family was known as having settled in the region of Strasbourg (France) before 1740. His ancestors worked for the royal Treasury. His grandfather, Louis Eugène Coedès was a painter, pupil of Léon Coignet. His father Hyppolite worked as a banker. Coedès became director of the National Library of Thailand in 1918, and in 1929 became director of L'École française d'Extrême-Orient, where he remained until 1946. Thereafter he lived in Paris until he died in 1969. In 1935 he married Neang Yao. He wrote two texts in the field, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia (1968, 1975) (first published in 1948 as Les états hindouisés d'Indochine et d'Indonésie) and The Making of South East Asia (1966), as well as innumerable articles, in which he developed the concept of the Indianized kingdom. Perhaps his greatest lasting scholarly accomplishment was his work on Sanskrit and Old Khmer inscriptions from Cambodia. In addition to scores of articles (especially in the Bulletin of the École française d'Extrême-Orient), his 8-volume work Inscriptions du Cambodge (1937-1966) contains editions and translations of over a thousand inscriptions from pre-Angkorian and Angkor-era monuments, and stands as Coedès' magnum opus. One stele, the recently rediscovered K-127, contains an inscription of what has been dubbed the "Khmer Zero", the first known use of zero in the modern number system. The transliteration system that he devised for Thai (and Khmer) is used by specialists of Thai and other writing systems derived from that of Khmer.