Previously undocumented medieval cities have been discovered with the use of LIDAR, buried underneath vegetation near the ancient temple of Angkor Wat. Archeologists are considering this to be a unique find which could prove to be detrimental in establishing the actual history of Southeast Asia.
The ancient cities have been buried under vegetation for possibly more than a millennium. They were discovered with the use of Light Detection and Ranging technology, also known as LIDAR. The vastness of several of the identified cities overshadows even Phnom Penh, the nation’s capital.
Historical specialists believe that based on their size, age, and location, these cities could be the remnants of the Khmer Empire.
It is believed that in 802 AD, King Jayavarman II founded the Khmer Empire and proclaimed himself King of the World. The empire’s influence would reach territories which currently belong to Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The Khmer Empire had its capital city at Angkor, a city conventionally regarded as the largest preindustrial city center in the known world. It was built in the early-to-middle 1100s by King Suryavarman II. The city remains as a testament to the empire’s mythical wealth, power, and culture.
The findings will be presented in full detail at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
The LIDAR technology used in these findings was employed by attaching the scanning laser under a helicopter. Utilizing this procedure, archeologists have, in only a matter of a few years, found more information of higher historical accuracy and importance than ever before.
In 2012, the ruins of another large temple, Mahendraparvata, were found near Angkor Wat. It was this discovery that led archeologists to realize that there had to be multiple settlements and cities surrounding Angkor Wat.
LIDAR technology revealed that the ancient settlements had crumbled long ago. Due to the fact that they were made of wood more than stone and metal, not much remained of them, but the technology was still able to map their perimeters roughly.
In its current findings, LIDAR also found a series of intricate waterways, as well as a number of iron smelting sites. Apart from the cities surrounding Angkor Wat, archeologists have also mapped out a large city surrounding Preah Khan, another large stone temple.
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