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Laser reveals hidden network of ancient Cambodian city

Laser sheds new light on the 1,200-year-old Cambodian city's urban design.

Cambodia tourists 2011 10 03Enlarge
Cambodia's Banteay Srey is the temple with the most delicated and preserved stonecarvings in the Angkor Archeological Park in Siem Reap. (IAN WALTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Laser technology has confirmed the existence of a 1,200-year-old Cambodian city obscured by mountain growth, according to The Cambodian Daily

Lead excavator Jean-Baptiste Chevance said the airborne laser technology allowed archeologists to see "a whole network of roads and dykes," revealing a vast urban design uniting it with Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple complex.

Built in the 12th century, Angkor Wat is now a major tourist destination as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The "lidar" laser revealed the city of Mahendraparvata's complex urban design as well as some previously undiscovered temples. 

"No one had ever mapped the city in any kind of detail before, and so it was a real revelation to see the city revealed in such clarity," University of Sydney archeologist Damian Evans, the lead author in the research to be published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, told the Associated Press

He also told The Cambodian Daily this proved that the city was legit, not just some scattered buildings surrounding Angkor Wat. 

The evidence had been hidden in the dense foliage of the Phnom Kulen mountain — until the laser pierced right through it. 

Stephane De Greef, the project’s lead cartographer, described the discovery to The Cambodian Daily as "a massive game-changer" for researchers in the field. 

"We’re talking about a city that is more than 1,000 years old and is all underground," she said. "What you see at the site is what looks like termite hills. If you didn't know, you might think it’s natural." 

Funny that it took something as annatural as a laser to call the mountain's bluff, eh? 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/cambodia/130618/laser-reveals-hidden-network-ancient-cambodian-ci