C&B Notes

A Lost City in Cambodia

Archaeological researchers have discovered an entire ancient city in Cambodia using data from a revolutionary airborne laser-scanning technology called light detection and ranging data (LIDAR).

Dr Evans, director of the University of Sydney’s archaeological research centre in Cambodia, said the ”eureka moment” in the discovery came weeks earlier when the lidar data popped up on a computer screen.  ”With this instrument — bang — all of a sudden we saw an immediate picture of an entire city that no one knew existed which is just remarkable,” he said.

Heng Heap, a one-legged, chain-smoking former Khmer Rouge soldier, guided the expedition, hacking the way through undergrowth and skirting landmines in the area where he knows every significant outcrop, stream and valley.  Injured in three landmine explosions and wearing a prosthetic plastic leg, Heng Heap said he was surprised when the archaeologists, using GPS co-ordinates, pointed him straight to temple sites that were buried or hidden by jungle and that he never knew existed.  ”I knew some things were there but not all of them,” he said between puffs of a village-made cigarette.

Fairfax Media recorded the archaeologists pulling away undergrowth at several sites to find pedestals from collapsed temples that were probably looted centuries ago.  Guided by the GPS, they stumbled across piles of ancient bricks.  They found two temple sites where no carved rocks or ancient bricks could be found scattered nearby, indicating they have never been looted.  They also found a cave with historically significant carvings that was used by holy hermits who were common during the Angkor period.  The lidar, or light detection and ranging data, revealed hundreds of mysterious mounds several metres high across the mostly buried city.