In a thrilling new discovery, archaeologists used laser imaging technology to reveal ancient cities hidden by jungle in Cambodia. The LiDAR data provides information on waterways, iron smelting locations, and even another temple, Preah Khan. The discovery reveals that the cities near Angkor Wat were much larger than previously thought.
Angkor Wat was built during the reign of King Suryavarman II of the Khmer Empire in the early to middle 1100s, and it was part of one of the biggest ancient cities. Archaeologists suspected there had to be more to the area, and research has been underway for several years. The new data appears to confirm these suspicions.
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Archaeologist Damian Evans said to AFP, “The LiDAR quite suddenly revealed an entire cityscape there with astonishing complexity. It turned out we’d been walking and flying right over the top of this stuff for ten years and not even noticing it because of the vegetation. What we had was basically a scatter of disconnected points on the map denoting temple sites. Now it’s like having a detailed street map of the entire city.”
Back in 2012, scans revealed an ancient temple city close to Angkor Wat called Mahendraparvata, and the new scans will assist archaeologists on the ground as they continue to explore that area. It had been difficult for archaeologists to determine the extent of this area because the empire constructed many of the ancient buildings with wood that’s since rotted. Made of stone, the temples endure. Archaeologists saw evidence of both Hinduism and Buddhism in the temples; both religions were part of the Khmer Empire during different time periods.
A spokesperson from the government authority in charge of Angkor Wat said they aimed to research further to build on the exciting discoveries.
Images via Wikimedia Commons (1,2)