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Ancient “lost city” from the Khmer Empire uncovered in Cambodian jungle

In a project that has spanned years, archaeologists have used aerial laser scans and ground-based surveying to map the ancient city of Mahendraparvata from the Khmer Empire, nestled in the Phnom Kulen mountains of Northern Cambodia.

Mahendraparvata was one of the first capitals in the Khmer Empire, which lasted from the 9th to 15th centuries AD. Scientists believed that they knew where the “lost city” was located, but it was difficult to find evidence as the area has proven to be inaccessible, as researchers explained in their report published this week:

“Despite knowing that the Phnom Kulen mountains likely hid traces of a Khmer capital city, archaeologists have had difficulty accessing the region. The mountains are covered in dense vegetation and they were one of the last strongholds of Khmer Rouge guerrillas until the 1990s – land mines and unexploded ordnance continue to pose a threat to communities living and working in the mountains, and complicate archaeological research.”

Using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology, which uses laser to measure distances to the Earth’s surface, scientists were able to locate the ancient capital hidden under thick vegetation in the unforgiving mountains.