Using cutting-edge laser scanning, archeologists discover multiple medieval cities around the world's largest religious complex of Angkor Wat.
Discovering ancient cities buried beneath the jungle sounds like something out of an adventure movie, but that actually happened.
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Using laser technology, an archeologist has recently uncovered vast medieval cities hidden beneath the jungle floor around Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
Angkor Wat is a temple complex which is taken as the largest religious complex in the world while the latest discovery suggests that the temple complexes are even bigger than previously thought.
An Australian researcher Damien Eavans has spent several years in search of hidden civilization in the jungle. He always knew there must be something buried underneath the dense vegetation which is impossible to look with naked eyes.
“We always imagined that their great cities surrounded the monuments in antiquity,” said Australian archeologist Damien Evans. “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 was made possible by the cutting edge airborne laser scanning technology what they call “the most extensive acquisition ever undertaken by an archaeological project.” The laser scanning allowed researchers to map out a vast area, more than 734 square miles of the land and to peek into the place obscured by trees and vegetation. Scanning was done in 2015 and it revealed several cities between 900 and 1400 years old beneath the forest ground.
The ancient cities belonged to Khmer Empire, which reined ancient Cambodia from around the 9th to the 15th centuries. Much of the cities developed by Khmer societies made of materials like wood and thatch which decay away over time.
Most dramatic among findings is a huge city complex known as Preah Khan of Kompong Svay. Evans and his team searched for the city for almost 10 years and concluded it didn’t exist. But one day, they found it was right there in front of them.
“We had spent a decade on the ground … looking for a city that we figured must be around somewhere … surrounding this temple. All of a sudden, the city has more or less instantly appeared on the screen in front of us. It had been hiding in plain sight. A city that we figured wasn’t there just appeared.” Evans told Washington Post.
The other striking thing was the discovery of the full extent of Mahendraparvata city. In earlier survey, only a part of Mahendraparvata was discovered.
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The findings not only shed light into the Khmer Empire but also the people living at those sites in the past.