A fabled “lost city” has been found in Cambodia.
You’ve probably heard of Angkor Wat, one of the world’s greatest historical sites. It’s the final remains of the Khmer Empire, which ruled much of Southeast Asia from the year 803 to the middle of the 15th century. The empire eventually fell through a combination of factors, but the massive metropolis and its impressive temples still live on today in modern Cambodia.
We know a lot about the ancient Khmer people from sites like Angkor Wat, including the fact that their nation’s cities stretched all the way to the mountainous region of Phnom Kulen. Artifacts from the Khmer Empire indicated that there was a city somewhere in the region called Mahendraparvata. However, archaeologists began calling it the “lost city” as that area is treacherous and rarely traversed.
But modern technology has finally found it. A report published in the archaeology journal Antiquity reports that a team of researchers has finally found the city using a combination of on-the-ground surveying and aerial laser scanning.
What they found was truly amazing. The city was highly advanced and included water management, agricultural throughways, and transportation hubs to other major cities. Mahendraparvata is also considered one of the Khmer's earliest cities as the mountainous region provided a natural defense for the empire.
The research team hopes to glean additional information from the Khmer period thanks to their find, including some “basic questions concerning the extent and population of Angkor, and how that changed over the centuries.”
The fall of the Khmer is considered on history's greatest mysteries. Expert theories range from a dynastic fall as the ruling class engaged in a power struggle that rendered the empire's politics to a simple foreign invasion. Plague is also considered a possible factor as it was around the same period as when Europe was dealing with the Black Death. Or it could be like so many failed empires and all be related to a series of ecological catastrophes brought about by too many people inhabiting the same space.
Mahendraparvata may be the final key that unravels the great mystery of the Khmer.
(via Travel and Leisure)