Ancient ruins that have lain hidden beneath the ground for centuries have been discovered in Cambodia.
After scanning more than 734 square miles using lasers in what is being hailed as the most extensive airborne archaeological study ever undertaken, researchers have announced the discovery of several large, long-forgotten cities hidden beneath the forest floor.
According to Australian archaeologist Dr Damian Evans, the cities date back up to 1,400 years and some of them were so large that they would have even rivalled the country’s capital, Phnom Penh.
The data suggests that these remarkable, densely populated cities would have made this the single largest empire on the planet at its peak during the 12th century.
“We have entire cities discovered beneath the forest that no one knew were there,” said Evans.
The find not only cements the archaeological significance of Angkor Wat but also demonstrates how effective laser scanning technology has become at opening up the secrets of the past.
“I have been to all the sites described and at a stroke, they spring into life … it is as if a bright light has been switched on to illuminate the previous dark veil that covered these great sites,” said Charles Higham, a leading archaeologist of mainland south-east Asia.
“Personally, it is wonderful to be alive as these new discoveries are being made. Emotionally, I am stunned. Intellectually, I am stimulated.”