There has just be a huge significant discovery in Cambodia which is sure to change the way we view the history of Cambodia and the ancient Khmer civilisation.
If you keep up to date with current affairs or read the news then you may have seen that archeologists have just discovered whole ancient cities beneath the dense jungle in and around Angkor. Angkor itself is already one of the most visited places in the world for tourists and the Temples of Angkor are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Angkor was once the capital of the Khmer civilisation and Angkor Wat is the largest temple complex in the world which was built over 900 years ago.
What is fascinating is the size of the ancient cities that have been discovered. Scientists say that these 1000 years old discoveries would have made the Khmer empire the largest in the world at that time, in the 12th century. The discovery was made from the air by using laser technology called Lidar which were attached to helicopters. The helicopters flew over the jungles in and around Angkor and fired the lasers towards the ground which then bounced back to the aircraft.
What baffled the scientist was that the time it took to return was inconsistent and therefore realised that there were actual structures below the ground. With this technology it allowed scientists to create an extremely detailed 3D model of the Earth’s surface as the laser can detect buildings as well as the remains of roads, aqueducts, caves and man made borders between different areas.
They have discovered cities so big, even some as large as the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, and even New York, which can be seen to be linked by a series of road and canal networks which only confirms that it was largest empire on earth in the 12th century.
Historians have never really understood why the Khmer empire, which ruled over most of mainland southeast Asia, disappeared. Theories such as the breakdown of the political system, plague, foreign invasion and environmental factors have all been attributed to its collapse. However, with these new discoveries it shines a whole new light on what happened to the Angkorians of the time and the whole Southeast Asian region, not just within Cambodia.
Scientists have called these new discoveries as huge and over the next few months and years, it will be sure to attract a whole new batch of interest from keen adventurers and history buffs.
Currently the Angkor Archaeological Park is spread over 400 square kilometres and the site was voted the No.1 tourist attraction in the world by the Tripadvisor this year and Lonely Planet last year.