Australian archaeologists using remote-sensing technology have uncovered an ancient city in Cambodia that has remained hidden for more than a millennium under dense jungle undergrowth.
The discovery of Mahendraparvata, a 1,200-year-old lost city that predates Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat temple complex by 350 years, was part of the Hindu-Buddhist Khmer Empire that ruled much of Southeast Asia from about 800 to 1400 A.D., during a time that coincided with Europe’s Middle Ages.
Damian Evans, director of the University of Sydney’s archaeological research center in Cambodia, and a small group of colleagues working in the Siem Reap region mapped an area using airborne Lidar, a remote-sensing technology utilizing lasers. It showed them the outline of the ancient city.
The Australian newspaper The Age reports that the group of archaeologists first found a collapsed temple and then:
» … hacked through … landmine-strewn jungle and waded through swollen rivers and bogs to discover the ruins of five other previously unrecorded temples and evidence of ancient canals, dykes and roads. …
Guided by the GPS loaded with the lidar data, they stumbled across piles of ancient bricks. They found two temple sites where no carved rocks or ancient bricks could be found scattered nearby, indicating they have never been looted. »
Evans says it’s not yet known how large Mahendraparvata was because the Lidar search covered only a small, circumscribed area.
« Maybe what we are seeing was not the central part of the city, so there is a lot of work to be done to discover the extent of this civilization, » he told The Age.