Laser survey reveals detail of 'lost' city hidden in Cambodian jungle

June 18, 2013 at 6:03 PM
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ANGKOR WAT, Cambodia, June 18 (UPI) -- Aircraft equipped with lasers have revealed a lost city near Angkor Wat in Cambodia, hidden for centuries under a dense forest cover, researchers say.

Details of the city of Mahendraparvata, known from 1,200-year-old inscriptions in other locations, was revealed by a LiDAR (light detection and ranging) survey of about 140 square miles of northwestern Cambodia in 2012, LiveScience reported Tuesday.

The survey revealed urban spaces hidden beneath the dense forest surrounding Angkor Wat, researchers said, confirming "a vast, low-density urban periphery stretching far beyond the major Angkorian temples."

"LiDAR provides an unparalleled ability to penetrate dense vegetation cover and map archaeological remains on the forest floor," the researchers wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The discovery suggests a dispersed city with a densely populated area, Angkor Wat, at its center, researchers said.

"It's the same sort of configuration as Los Angeles -- so, a dense middle, but it consists of huge, sprawling suburbs connected by giant roads and canals in exactly the same way as the freeways link up Los Angeles," Roland Fletcher of the University of Sydney told LiveScience.

The LiDAR technology was brought to Cambodia by the University of Sydney.

Although archaeologists have known about Mahendraparvata in general for some time, the new technology has added to that knowledge, researchers said.

"The main discovery is a whole network of roads and dykes that were linking monuments that were already known," Jean-Baptiste Chevance, director of the Archaeology and Development Foundation, told The Cambodian Daily.

However, he said, with LiDAR the team did uncover about 30 more potential temples, most of them piles of bricks lying in the dense vegetation.

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