Ancient City of ‘Mahendraparvata’ Hidden Beneath Cambodian Jungle
The “lost city of Cambodia” was eventually rediscovered by researchers. The city was officially called Mahendraparvata and was the first capital of the Angkorian Empire–a Hindu Buddhist empire that had been in Southeast Asia from the 9th to the 15th centuries.
Although archeologists and historians have been aware of several decades of the old city of Mahendraparvata, they did not know exactly where it stood before now.
The international research team was able to locate the old lost town under the Cambodian Jungle, thanks to laser scanning (or lidar) and ground surveys.
More precisely, the city was found in the Phnom Kulen plateau which is located to the north-east of Angkor.
According to their paper, “The mountainous region of Phnom Kulen has, to date, received strikingly little attention.”
It went on to read, “It is almost entirely missing from archaeological maps, except as a scatter of points denoting the remains of some brick temples.”The researchers went into further details on their findings in their paper which can be read in full here.
Between 2012 and 2017, the team conducted several Lidar survey flights over that area and were able to find numerous archaeological features that hadn’t been noticed during the ground surveys.
They noticed several features from the lost city that was around 50 square kilometers and were laid out in a grid-like pattern of linear axes.
The researchers explained it further by stating, “Dams, reservoir walls and the enclosure walls of temples, neighborhoods and even the royal palace abut or coincide with the embanked linear features.”
Jean-Baptiste Chevance, who is from the Archaeology and Development Foundation in the UK as well as the first author of the paper, told Newsweek, “The Ancient Khmer modified the landscape, shaping features on a very large scale – ponds, reservoirs, canals, roads, temples, rice fields, et cetera.”
He went on to say, “However, the dense forest often covering the areas of interest is the main constraint to investigating them.”
While the city was designed in an elaborate and sophisticated way, it did not last long as the Khmer Empire moved its important operations to Angkor which was their new capital city.
Team member Damian Evans, who is from the French School of the Far East, told New Scientist, “The city may not have lasted for centuries, or perhaps even decades,” adding, “But the cultural and religious significance of the place has lasted right up until the present day.”
An aerial view of Mahendraparvata as well as a photo of a temple site can be seen here.