Cambodian Lost City Revealed Using Airborne Lasers


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Remember the days of bullwhips, fedoras, and grail diaries? It seems they've gone the way of the pharaohs.

Researchers have uncovered what seems to be the lost city of Mahendraparvata, previously known only from 1200 year old inscriptions. Mahendraparvata, one of the first capitals of the Khmer Empire, was considered lost to history and described in documents dating to 802 A.D.

The Cambodian Archaeology and Development Foundation, searching the region of Phnom Kulen near Angkor, used an airborne laser scanning technology known as LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). The researchers' findings will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The cityscape, which predated the temples of Angkor Wat by over 300 years, was revealed with "exceptional clarity," despite the layers of dense jungle overlaying it. LiDAR technology has been used in similar applications in Canada, where it was used to learn more about the siege of a Seven Years' War-era fort, and in Honduras, where it has been used to find what may be the fabled Ciudad Blanca.

The new findings have challenged previous ideas about Angkor that assumed a series of individual, walled-in cities. Roland Fletcher of the University of Sydney says that the new findings instead reveal an urban landscape much like the "configuration of Los Angeles": a densely-populated center with vast sprawl.

Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.