Lost Ancient City Discovered In Cambodian Jungle

On October 2019, archaeologists have discovered the lost city of Mahendraparvata deep in the Cambodian jungle. This lost city, is located in the Phnom Kulen mountain range, which consists of an elongated plateau in the northwest of the country, roughly 25 miles east of Angkor Wat

Mahendraparvata, which dates back to the 8th and 9th century A.D., was once the capital of the ancient Khmer Empire. Although less well known than the Khmer temple complex of Angkor Wat and the ancient megacity of Angkor, Mahendraparvata pre-dates Angkor, according to experts.

Image Credit: Newsweek

"The Phnom Kulen capital ruled at the end of the 8th century and first half of the 9th century," Jean-Baptiste Chevance, an archaeologist from the Archaeology & Development Foundation—Phnom Kulen Program, told Newsweek. "Radiocarbon dating results confirm this occupation, corresponding to the reign of King Jayavarman II. 

The first clues indicating the presence of an ancient Khmer capital in Phnom Kulen came from several historical inscriptions associated with King Jayavarman II, who was known to have unified and ruled Cambodia at the end of the 8th century and early 9th century, essentially kickstarting the Khmer Empire. 

"The location of the city was unclear at the early stage of Khmer studies," Chevance said. "Mahendraparvata was first identified with Phnom Kulen at the beginning of the 20th century. It was not before 1936-38 that the first archaeological campaign revealed most of the brick temples and placed them, with their architectural decoration, within the chronology of Khmer art history." 

By combining airborne laser scans and ground surveys, researchers were able to locate the city. Previously, the only evidence of Mahendraparvata was a small number of isolated shrines.

Image Credit: Foxnews

Experts harnessed LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology, which uses a laser to measure distances to the Earth’s surface and can prove extremely valuable to study what is hidden in areas with thick vegetation. LiDAR is also used extensively in other applications, including autonomous cars where it allows vehicles to have a continuous 360 degrees view. 

Experts also studied mysterious “mound fields” at the Mahendraparvata site. The fields consist of 366 individual mounds set out in geometric patterns and 15 groups. Ceramics and evidence of 10th-century A.D. construction were found at the mounds. “Although the purpose of the mounds remains unknown, it is likely that, whatever they were, the mounds were built later than the majority of Mahendraparvata,” they explained, in the statement. These remain a mystery to researchers.

Sources:

  • https://www.newsweek.com/cambodian-jungle-long-list-city-discovered-khmer-empire-1465275
  • https://www.foxnews.com/science/lost-city-discovered-cambodian-jungle
  • https://nypost.com/2019/10/21/mysterious-lost-city-discovered-in-cambodian-jungle/

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