Leading archaeologist Dr. Damian Evans and landmine expert and cartographer Stéphane De Greef, both freelance study tour leaders for ABOUTAsia Travel, have been integral to a new research project that has led to the discovery of Mahendraparvata city, founded 1,200 years ago, in Angkor.
The technologically groundbreaking project was conducted using LiDAR technology, whereby a laser mapping instrument was mounted to a helicopter with the ability to penetrate through dense vegetation allowing experts to see what lay beneath.
The ancient royal capital of Mahendraparvata has long been suspected to have existed on the Phnom Kulen plateau but was finally confirmed thanks to the aerial surveys conducted. The results show the existence of a widespread urban network, and what appear to be massive highways extending over several kilometres, linking sacred sites together. It revealed that previously known temples in this area were in fact part of a more expansive, sprawling, low-density urban landscape.
A consortium of institutions, created at the initiative of University of Sydney, under the supervision of Dr. Damian Evans, brought the use of this technology about with jaw-dropping results. As one of the world’s leading academics on the temples, Dr. Damian Evans has lived and worked in South-East Asia for fifteen years. A study leader for ABOUTAsia, guests can benefit from his insight into Angkor’s treasures and little-known corners of the complex, providing an exclusive experience as part of a tailor-made tour.
With the LiDar data, Stéphane De Greef, cartographer for ADF (Archaeology & Development Foundation) begun the post-processing and analysis, which revealed hundreds of formerly unknown “topographic anomalies”, each potentially an ancient feature, had been identified. Stéphane, also an entomologist and landmine expert, can impart local knowledge of Kulen and the Angkor Archaeological Park as well as taking ABOUTAsia guests to explore the surrounding countryside.
Then the Indiana Jones work begun – hacking through jungle and across rice paddies as part of the essential process to verify the data collected and to distinguish ancient man-made structures from natural features.
Even more exciting is that the confirmation of the ‘lost city’ of Mahendraparvata forms only one part of the results acquired – along with previously unidentified urban networks at Angkor Wat and Koh Ker.
The ‘Lost City’ is located in the Phnom Kulen National Park. Though not yet possible for tourists visit the newly discovered ruins – access is not easy and there is not always anything much to see above the ground’s surface- guests can still discover highlights of Phnom Kulen with ABOUTAsia. This includes the cooling cascades of the Phnom Kulen Waterfall, and ancient sites that have been known for a century such as Srah Damray.
A 4-Night Tour Including a Day Trip to Phnom Kulen (previously known sites) staying at the boutique hotel Shinta Mani, with dedicated English-speaking guide and driver, costs from $814pp in High Season.
Dr. Damian Evans & Stéphane De Greef can both be booked on request through ABOUTAsia Travel
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