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Lasers Reveal Ancient Hidden Cities in Cambodia

Jun 23, 2016 01:44 AM EDT

Widely known as the location of the movie Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie, the temples in Cambodia have always been fascinating to archeologists and tourists alike. The vastness and the intricacies of how the temples were made, including the Angkor Wat, are what make them popular Cambodian attractions. But a recent study shows that below Cambodia's forests hid ancient cities where former civilization thrived.

The archaeologists in Cambodia may have found evidence of ancient cities buried near Angkor Wat. Using lasers, they discovered signs of ancient cities and earthen mounds or "dome fields", according to New Historian. The project was conducted in conjunction with Cambodian Archaeological Lidar Initiative (CALI). The finding of archeologist Dr. Damian Evans is published in the Journal of Archeological Science. Dr. Evans and his team conducted what the archeological community called the "most extensive" airborne observation that covered 734 square miles of the country.

An innovative laser technology was used to scan the Cambodian territory where multiple cities between 900 to 1,400 years old were revealed.

The ancient cities were underneath forest floors; this explains why they were unreported for a very long time.  According to the finding, some of the buried cities are as big as Phom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The laser, called LIDAR, was fitted below a helicopter to enable it to scan large areas at a time.

"We have entire cities discovered beneath the forest that no one knew were there - at Preah Khan of Kompong Svay and, it turns out, we uncovered only a part of Mahendraparvata on Phnom Kulen... this time we got the whole deal and it's big, the size of Phnom Penh big," archaeologist Damian Evans said in an interview published by the Guardian.

Some argue that the buried cities might be as old, even older than the temples. The temples were built 900 years ago. The recent finding of Evans and his team can potentially rewrite the historical accounts regarding the ancient civilization in Cambodia and in Asia.

According to BBC, the lasers showed infrastructures built to form cities, some of which appear to be as big as New York City. The laser revealed signs of functional communities with houses, waterways and even gardens in the cities. The numbers of the metropolis are believed to be part of the largest empire on Earth during that period.

The project was initiated when signs of ancient civilization were discovered in 1990. Today, 735 square miles of Cambodia were scanned and the recent finding is expected to give light to the ancient civilization, Vast Khmer, which is believed to have existed in Cambodia more than a millennium ago.


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