Archaeologists Uncover Hidden Medieval Cities in Cambodia

By Kauffman, Gretel | The Christian Science Monitor, June 13, 2016 | Go to article overview

Archaeologists Uncover Hidden Medieval Cities in Cambodia


Kauffman, Gretel, The Christian Science Monitor


Laser technology has uncovered multiple ancient cities beneath the jungle of Cambodia, a discovery that archaeologists studying Angkor Wat's medieval civilization are calling the greatest in decades for their field.

The previously undocumented cities, ranging from 900 to 1,400 years old and rivaling the size of Cambodia's current capital, Phnom Penh, were discovered near the ancient temple city of Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat, which attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists per year as a UNESCO World Heritage site, was constructed during the early to mid 1100s by King Suryavarmn II of the Khmer Empire.

Historians had long suspected that the Khmer Empire included more cities in addition to Angkor Wat, and scans made in 2012 confirmed the existence of Mahendraparvata, another ancient temple city located nearby. The new scans, made with laser scanning technology known as lidar, map out in greater detail the full extent of Mahendraparvata, as well as other cities and a complex system of waterways.

"We always imagined that their great cities surrounded the monuments in antiquity," lead researcher Damian Evans told AFP. "But now we can see them with incredible precision and detail, in some places for the very first time, but in most places where we already had a vague idea that cities must be there."

The discovery also provides historians with new insights on the "collapse of Angkor," Dr. Evans told The Guardian. …

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