Lasers used to rediscover and map 'lost city' hidden in jungle
An ancient settlement known as the "lost city" of Cambodia, has been rediscovered by scientists using aerial mapping after being hidden in dense jungle for centuries.
Mahendraparvata, believed to have been the first capital of the Khmer Empire during the Angkor period from the 9th to 15th centuries, had long eluded archaeologists, who knew it existed but could not map it because of the difficult terrain and landmines from the 1970s Cambodian-Vietnamese war.
In a paper published this month in 'Antiquity', an international team has revealed what they say is a definitive reconstruction of the form of the early city, with the help of airborne laser scanning, known as Lidar.
The work began in 2012 when scientists scanned the region with lasers from aircraft. It gave them an incomplete snapshot of the ruins and they returned in 2015 to scan a larger area, alongside a ground survey.
The result was "a very full and detailed interpretation of that city".
The city was built on a plateau of up to 50 sq km and laid out in a grid. Traces of buildings include temples and grand palaces. The area also has monolithic statues.
"It shows a degree of centralised control and planning," they said.
"What you're seeing at Mahendraparvata speaks of a grand vision and a fairly elaborate plan."
Experts now aim to date the structures. The city appears not to have been the capital for long because of the terrain.