Australian archaeologists using high tech equipment have discovered a lost city in Cambodia that had been swallowed up by the jungle and forgotten for more than 1200 years. The city was found using a sophisticated airborne surveillance systems called Lidar – which stands for light detection and ranging data. Mounted on a helicopter, the device uses lasers to penetrate the dense jungle canopy below, giving researchers an opportunity to discover things they wouldn’t have been able to find on their own.
The city, which was built during the European Middle Ages, is named Mahendraparvata and is said to pre-date the famous Angkor Wat ruins by as many as 350 years. It is believed to have been built by the Hindu-Buddhist Khmer Empire between 800 and 1400 AD. Previously there had been a few scattered ruins and artifacts discovered, but through the use of Lidar, the team behind the discovery were able to see just how massive and sprawling the Mahendraparvata complex truly is.
It is believed that the city was once surrounded by a large, open space without vegetation. In fact, deforestation may have led to the decline and fall of the city more than 1000 years ago. But without anyone to keep the jungle at bay, it was able to reclaim its lost lands over time. The jungle was so efficient in fact that it completely covered the area and made it difficult for anyone to discover the site, let alone trek to the place.
After using their high tech arial mapping techniques to determine the scope of the city, an adventurous group of explorers actually went out to see it for themselves. They’ve only just started to uncover the vast amount of buildings that must make up the site, but so far they’ve found two temples that are nearly intact as well as a cave filled with strange inscriptions and carvings.
It will of course take years to uncover the entire place and begin to see what is underneath. But I thought that this story was cool for the mere fact that I would have loved to have been amongst the team that went and visited the city on foot. Talk about a true adventure, that is something right out of an Indiana Jones movie.
The video below captures some images and footage from Mahendraparvata. Interesting stuff.
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