Like the plot from a new Indiana Jones movie, a crack team of archaeologists recently revealed the so-called ‘Lost City’ of Mahendraparvata. Sadly, grandiose early reports seemingly ignored the fact that the city’s existence was well documented throughout history and its whereabouts were already well known – it was the scale of the place which has only just become apparent.
The city is said to pre-date Angkor Wat and was revealed on a grand scale to the archaeologists by use of an airborne instrument called a ‘LiDAR’ (a remote sensing laser instrument) which crisscrossed the region for seven days recording vast amounts of new data to complement ground research by the team.
Beginning 40km north of Angkor Wat, the LiDAR revealed that Mahendraparvata (Sanskrit for “Mountain of the Great Indra” which refers to the nearby Phnom Kulen mountain range) may well have once stretched all the way to Angkor Wat from the mountains, which would make the complex one of the biggest cities in ancient history.
Further research will hopefully determine the rough population of the ‘lost’ city and provide invaluable evidence of a society about which little is known. It’s thought that Mahendraparvata was the birthplace of the Khmer Empire, but was perhaps abandoned when canal and reservoir systems failed. Hopefully scientists and archaeologists will one day be able to find more conclusive evidence about what exactly happened in the ancient city.
The new findings offer up more questions than answers however. Although we often assume we’ve uncovered many of history’s secrets around the world, this discovery shows us that regions like Southeast Asia are prime areas to discover the unknown and also prompts the question – what else is out there?
We proudly assisted journalist Lara Dunston with a number of trips to explore Mahendraparvata and the Mount Kulen region for her research on articles which featured in various publications including The Guardian and CNN Travel. If you’d like to explore the ruins of the ancient city of Mahendraparvata as Lara did, or any of the temples and lesser-known ancient cities of Cambodia, you can take one of our many fascinating Backyard Travel tours.
Explore Angkor with our fully-customizable four-day, three-night tour and investigate the intriguing ancient empire, or see the lesser-known hidden temples of Angkor with walking and cycling tours on our six-day, five-night Angkor Adventure: Trek and Bike tour.
Alternatively, contact one of our expert Travel Specialists based in Cambodia who would be delighted to share their knowledge with you and tailor a tour perfect to your specifications.