Lost ancient city found in Cambodia

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MahendraparvataArchaeologists have recently discovered, with revolutionary airborne laser technology, a lost city that thrived 1,200 years ago on a mist-shrouded mountain in Siem Reap province of Cambodia, home to another ancient wonder – Angkor Wat.

The discovery was announced on June 17, 2013 in a peer-reviewed paper released by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The lost city is known as Mahendraparvata, constructed from the early to mid-1100s by King Suryavarman II, during the Khmer Empire.

The airborne laser instrument called Lidar (light detection and ranging data) had mapped out an entire vast cityscape hidden under thick jungle canopy atop Phnom Kulen Mountain in Siem Reap province, revealing a previously undocumented vast cityscape of highways, canals, and undiscovered temples. Lidar operates by firing laser pulses from an aircraft to the ground, measuring the surface’s distance, creating a highly detailed three-dimensional map of the area.

“No one had ever mapped the city in any kind of detail before, and so it was a real revelation to see the city revealed in such clarity,” University of Sydney archaeologist Damian Evans, the study’s lead author, said by phone from Cambodia.

Constructed during the Khmer empire in the 12th century, the Angkor Wat temple complex remains one of Asia’s most famous landmarks and top tourist attractions. Angkor Wat appears on the Cambodian flag and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In April 2012, excavators and researchers loaded the Lidar equipment onto a helicopter, spending the next few days flying over thick forests from 800 meters above ground. Shortly after, a team of French and Australian archaeologists would later confirm the discovery while on an on-foot exploration through the humid jungle.

“The real revelation is to find that the downtown area is densely inhabited, formally-planned and bigger than previously thought… to see the extent of things we missed before has completely changed our understanding of how these cities were structured,” Evans said.

“We had reasonable expectations, I guess, of what we would find using the Lidar data, but what we’ve ended up with has just blown our minds.”

The researchers have theorised that Mahendraparvata’s demise was due to broken canals, reservoirs and deforestation.

Researchers plan on excavating the site, with Evans hoping that it will further reveal more clues about the cities past population.

“It’s really remarkable to see these traces of human activity still inscribed into the forest floor many, many centuries after the city ceased to function and was overgrown.”

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Archaeologists have recently discovered, with revolutionary airborne laser technology, a lost city that thrived 1,200 years ago on a mist-shrouded mountain in Siem Reap province of Cambodia, home to another ancient wonder – Angkor Wat.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

MahendraparvataArchaeologists have recently discovered, with revolutionary airborne laser technology, a lost city that thrived 1,200 years ago on a mist-shrouded mountain in Siem Reap province of Cambodia, home to another ancient wonder – Angkor Wat.

The discovery was announced on June 17, 2013 in a peer-reviewed paper released by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The lost city is known as Mahendraparvata, constructed from the early to mid-1100s by King Suryavarman II, during the Khmer Empire.

The airborne laser instrument called Lidar (light detection and ranging data) had mapped out an entire vast cityscape hidden under thick jungle canopy atop Phnom Kulen Mountain in Siem Reap province, revealing a previously undocumented vast cityscape of highways, canals, and undiscovered temples. Lidar operates by firing laser pulses from an aircraft to the ground, measuring the surface’s distance, creating a highly detailed three-dimensional map of the area.

“No one had ever mapped the city in any kind of detail before, and so it was a real revelation to see the city revealed in such clarity,” University of Sydney archaeologist Damian Evans, the study’s lead author, said by phone from Cambodia.

Constructed during the Khmer empire in the 12th century, the Angkor Wat temple complex remains one of Asia’s most famous landmarks and top tourist attractions. Angkor Wat appears on the Cambodian flag and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In April 2012, excavators and researchers loaded the Lidar equipment onto a helicopter, spending the next few days flying over thick forests from 800 meters above ground. Shortly after, a team of French and Australian archaeologists would later confirm the discovery while on an on-foot exploration through the humid jungle.

“The real revelation is to find that the downtown area is densely inhabited, formally-planned and bigger than previously thought… to see the extent of things we missed before has completely changed our understanding of how these cities were structured,” Evans said.

“We had reasonable expectations, I guess, of what we would find using the Lidar data, but what we’ve ended up with has just blown our minds.”

The researchers have theorised that Mahendraparvata’s demise was due to broken canals, reservoirs and deforestation.

Researchers plan on excavating the site, with Evans hoping that it will further reveal more clues about the cities past population.

“It’s really remarkable to see these traces of human activity still inscribed into the forest floor many, many centuries after the city ceased to function and was overgrown.”

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