Airborne laser uncovers ancient city hidden under dense Cambodian forest near Angkor Wat 
Airborne laser technology has uncovered a network of roadways and canals, illustrating a bustling ancient city linking Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat temple complex.

The discovery was announced late Monday in a peer-reviewed paper released early by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The laser scanning revealed a previously undocumented formally planned urban landscape integrating the 1,200-year-old temples. The Angkor temple complex was constructed in the 12th century during the mighty Khmer empire. 

“No one had ever mapped the city in any kind of detail before, and so it was a real revelation to see the city revealed in such clarity,” University of Sydney archaeologist Damian Evans, the study’s lead author, said by phone from Cambodia. “It’s really remarkable to see these traces of human activity still inscribed into the forest floor many, many centuries after the city ceased to function and was overgrown.” (Photo: Archaeology and Development Foundation - Phnom Kulen Program/Handout PNAS News)

New Research Sheds Some Light on History of Ancient Cambodian City Mahendraparvata

A new study published in the journal PLoS ONE has uncovered about 400 years of intensive land use around the ancient city of Mahendraparvata, Cambodia.

Mahendraparvata was founded by King Jayavarman II – the ruler of the Khmer Kingdom – in 802 CE.

Discovered in 2013, the city is located on the plateau Phnom Kulen, around 40 km north of the famous Angkor Wat complex.

The history of Mahendraparvata is based on several written inscriptions, the most well-known being an 11th century CE inscription found in eastern Thailand. The inscription, dated to 1052 CE, tells about a private family serving successive Khmer Kings for 250 years, the first mentioned being King Jayavarman II. Read more.

Laser scans flesh out the saga of Cambodia’s 1,200-year-old lost city

(Photo: Evans et al. / PNAS)

Laser-scanning technology reveals that the Cambodian lost city of Mahendraparvata, dating back to a time before Angkor Wat, was much more extensive than previously thought. The latest word about the high-tech hunt for hidden ruins came over the weekend in an on-the-scene report from Australia’s Fairfax Media.

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Mahendraparvata - Lost City of Cambodia

Cambodia which houses Angkor Vat, the oldest religious site in the world now has another jewel. This temple city called Mahendraparvata is supposed to be even older than Angkor Vat. Archaeologists have discovered this ancient ruin with the help of a revolutionary instrument called Lidar which is used to produce high resolution maps. For more info visit
WATCH: Archaeologists Discover 1,200-Year-Old 'Lost City' In Cambodia

A lost medieval city that thrived on a mist-shrouded Cambodian mountain 1,200 years ago has been discovered by archaeologists using revolutionary airborne laser technology, a report said.In what it called a world exclusive, the Sydney Morning Herald said the city, Mahendraparvata, included temples hidden by jungle for centuries, many of which have not been looted.A journalist and photographer from the newspaper accompanied the “Indiana Jones-style” expedition, led by a French-born archaeologist, through landmine-strewn jungle in the Siem Reap region where Angkor Wat, the largest Hindu temple complex in the world, is located.The expedition used an instrument called Lidar – light detection and ranging data – which was strapped to a helicopter that criss-crossed a mountain north of Angkor Wat for seven days, providing data that matched years of ground research by archaeologists.It effectively peeled away the jungle canopy using billions of laser pulses, allowing archaeologists to see structures that were in perfect squares, completing a map of the city which years of painstaking ground research had been unable to achieve, the report said.It helped reveal the city that reportedly founded the Angkor Empire in 802 AD, uncovering more than two dozen previously unrecorded temples and evidence of ancient canals, dykes and roads using satellite navigation coordinates gathered from the instrument’s data.Jean-Baptiste Chevance, director of the Archaeology and Development Foundation in London who led the expedition, told the newspaper it was known from ancient scriptures that a great warrior, Jayavarman II, had a mountain capital, “but we didn’t know how all the dots fitted, exactly how it all came together”.“We now know from the new data the city was for sure connected by roads, canals and dykes,” he said.The discovery is set to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.Damian Evans, director of the University of Sydney’s archaeological research centre in Cambodia, which played a key part in developing the Lidar technology, said there might be important implications for today’s society.“We see from the imagery that the landscape was completely devoid of vegetation,” Evans, a co-expedition leader, said.“One theory we are looking at is that the severe environmental impact of deforestation and the dependence on water management led to the demise of the civilisation … perhaps it became too successful to the point of becoming unmanageable."The Herald said the trek to the ruins involved traversing rutted goat tracks and knee-deep bogs after travelling high into the mountains on motorbikes.Everyone involved was sworn to secrecy until the findings were peer-reviewed.Evans said it was not known how large Mahendraparvata was because the search had so far only covered a limited area, with more funds needed to broaden it out."Maybe what we see was not the central part of the city, so there is a lot of work to be done to discover the extent of this civilisation,” he said.“We need to preserve the area because it’s the origin of our culture,” secretary of state at Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture, Chuch Phoeun, told AFP.Angkor Wat was at one time the largest pre-industrial city in the world, and is considered one of the ancient wonders of the world.It was constructed from the early to mid 1100s by King Suryavarman II at the height of the Khmer Empire’s political and military power. Copyright (2013) AFP. All rights reserved.

Lost horizons: mediaeval city uncovered

Archaeologists using revolutionary airborne laser technology have discovered a lost mediaeval city that thrived on a mist-shrouded Cambodian mountain 1200 years ago.

The stunning discovery of the city, Mahendraparvata, includes temples hidden by jungle for centuries - temples that archaeologists believe have never been looted.

An instrument called Lidar strapped to a helicopter which criss-crossed a mountain north of the Angkor Wat complex provided data that matched years of ground research by archaeologists. The research revealed the city that founded the Angkor Empire in 802AD.

The University of Sydney’s archaeology research centre in Cambodia brought the Lidar instrument to Cambodia and played a key role in the discovery that is set to revolutionise archaeology across the world. Read more.
Laser Scanning Reveals the Hidden City of Angkor Wat | Wired Science |

Airborne laser scanning technology, or LiDAR, has revealed the imprint of a vast urban landscape hidden in the jungles and lowlands surrounding Angkor Wat.

*cries into a bottle of cranberry juice* I want to get my GIS certification so i can do stuff like this *becomes emotional about the future of archaeology*


Mahendraparvata & Khajuraho, India

A lost medieval city that thrived on a mist-shrouded Cambodian mountain 1,200 years ago has been discovered by archaeologists using revolutionary airborne laser technology. Mahendraparvata, included temples hidden by jungle for centuries, many of which have not been looted. The city reportedly founded the Angkor Empire in 802 AD includes more than two dozen previously unrecorded temples and evidence of ancient canals, dykes and roads. The name Mahendraparvata means “Mountain of the Great Indra.” Mahendraparvata is a reference to the sacred hill top site commonly known as “Phnom Kulen” today where Jayavarman II was consecrated as the first king of the Khmer Empire in 802. The name is attested in inscriptions on the Angkor-area Ak Yum temple.

The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho, a town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 385 miles southeast of New Delhi, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculptures. Between 950 and 1150, the Chandela monarchs built these temples when the Tantric tradition may have been accepted. In the days before the Mughal conquests, when boys lived in hermitages, following brahmacharya until they became men, they could learn about the world and prepare themselves to become householders through examining these sculptures and the worldly desires they depicted. Locals living in the Khajuraho village always knew about and kept up the temples as best as they could. They were pointed out to the English in the late 19th century when the jungles had taken a toll on the monuments. In the 19th century, British engineer T.S. Burt arrived in the area, followed by General Alexander Cunningham. Cunningham put Khajuraho on the world map when he explored the site on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India and described what he found in glowing terms. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered to be one of the “seven wonders” of India.