Remapping Mahendraparvata, Cambodia

The University of Sydney’s archaeology research centre used a device called a “lidar” to find the “lost city” of Mahendraparvata, which was once thriving in Cambodia 1,200 years ago. The expedition of Australian and French archaeologists used GPS co-ordinates to uncover the city’s location. The discovery will allow social scientists from various fields to test new hypotheses about the evolution and demise of the empire of Angkor, which dominated most of south-east Asia for 600 years. Now that the terrain is visible to outsiders, it seems vegetation may have been scarce or unsustainable.

There are invaluable multidisciplinary outcomes to this finding. It allows anthropologists, sociologists and historians to re-examine the political, religious and ecological nexus of power of the once-mighty Angkor empire. We can also work with locals in nearby regions, to determine to what extent this area was indeed “lost” to modern civilisation, as opposed to remaining undiscovered by outsiders, such as Western researchers. The discovery also allows social scientists to work with archaeologists and natural scientists to study environmental degradation in the region.

One of the team leaders, Dr Damian Evans tells The Age:

”One theory we are looking at is that the severe environmental impact of deforestation and the dependence on water management led to the demise of the civilisation … perhaps it became too successful to the point of becoming unmanageable.”

Story and photo: The Age.

First published on Science on Google+