A team of archaeologists have made a remarkable discovery deep in the Cambodian jungle – a mountain city that has lay hidden for perhaps more than a thousand years.
The site, which has been named as the long-lost city of Mahendraparvata, is located on a mountain called Phnom Kulen, the plateau of which served as the capital for the ancient Khmer Empire for more than 500 years. The city is thought to be the birthplace of the Angkor civilisation, and adds to the many historical wonders that bring many visitors on holidays to Cambodia each year.
The discovery was made by a team of Australian archaeologists, who have been studying the area for some time. Dr Damian Evans from the University of Sydney's archaeological research centre in Cambodia, said that the discovery dawned on them a few weeks ago, when one of their research instruments brought up “an immediate picture of an entire city that no one knew existed, which is just remarkable.”
Dr Evans and his small team then made the trek through the jungle, to discover dozens of ancient temple sites. It is still unknown what happened to this ancient civilisation, but Evans hypothesizes that perhaps the city became a victim of its own success, saying, “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.”
Whatever the reasons for this vast and ancient city being abandoned and forgotten, it is a significant discovery for Cambodia, and for the immediate area. Phnom Kulen, a national park, has long been regarded as a holy place where pilgrims travel from far and wide to visit. And the addition of this remarkable discovery only adds to Cambodia’s reputation as a destination of great cultural, historical and spiritual significance.