WAT A MAGICAL PLACE ; A WONDER: Angkor Wat Is a Sacred Site for Buddhists. It Was Obscured by Jungle until It Was Rediscovered in the 19th Century

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LASTsummeragroupof academicsfromAustralia, Cambodia and France mapped theruinsaround AngkorWat, the medieval temple once at the heart of the Khmer empire in Cambodia.

Thetemplesandbuildingswerecovered by jungle until they were rediscoveredinthe19th Century. But they are now one of the must see spots in SouthEast Asia.

Theacademics used ground-sensing radarfromaflyinglaboratoryrunby Nasa and aerial pictures. And they were surprisedtodiscovertheenormous extent of the ancient Angkor settlement. It spread over 1,150 squaremiles (3,000 sq km) the size of Los Angeles.

Theyconcludeditwastheworlds biggest pre-industrial complex, capable of sustaining 500,000 people.But its size created environmental problems that possibly led to thecivilisations demise in the early 15th Century, a lesson to us all.

The large-scale city engineered its own downfall by expanding continuously intothe surrounding forests, said Damian Evans, from the University of Sydney.

Angkor was extensive enough, and the agricultural exploitation intensive AWONDER: Angkor Wat is a sacred site for Buddhists. It was obscured by jungleuntil it was rediscovered in the 19th century ALAMY enough, to have createdvery serious environmental problems. The main temple has been used by tworeligionsit was first dedicatedtotheHindugodVishnu and then to Buddha. The adventureholidaycompanyExplore organises 12-day trips that cover the Treasures of Angkor, but start atPhnom Penh, the capital, with a visit to the genocide museum of Tuol Sleng andthe killing fields ofthecommunistKhmerRouge regime at Choeung Ek. …