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Monday, June 13, 2016

The Biggest Hidden Pre-Angkorian City, Mahendraparvata on Phnom Kulen, Revealed

The ancient Angkor City of Khmer Empire is supposed to be the largest capital in the world from 8th to 15th century just to the present of largest temple in the area. However, researchers scan the floor under the jungle near Phnom Kulen using new laser technology and get new data about the hidden city beneath the forest on Phnom Kulen plateau. 

Historically, King Jayavarman II declared the sovereignty and power of Khmer Empire in early 9th century on Phnom Kulen as the starting point of Angkor Period. We used to hear about Mahendraparvata city in history, but we never know that it was that large in addition to the present of lowland Angkor city. At last, we can now see ancient Angkor City with larger scale as the best of Khmer Empire. 

From this research, one thing to be interested is about the good management for transportation and water irrigation system link to the core of Angkor Town, Angkor Wat and to the Preah Khan Temple in Kompong Svay, Kompong Thom. Preah Khan Kompong Svay used to be the most important town to produce iron for the Kingdom, especially for Angkor Construction. We can also see how Mahendraparvata played the key role in Angkor Period and how million of residents live in that town. There is said to have more than 1 million people living in Angkor City at that time. 

The dense population shows how strength the Angkor City was able to do many things at the same time like water irrigation system, people management, higher education to people from around the world, city planning and transportation to various town throughout the Khmer Empire by linking to Sokhotey (Sokhothai), ancient town  in the far north of Khmer Empire bordering with Burman Kingdom, to Nokor Sreythommareach (Nakhon Sithammarath) in the far south close to Malay Kingdom (Java), Kanchanaborey far west bordering with Mon Kingdom, to Prey Nokor (Ho Chi Minh) far east close to Champa Kingdom.and Khmemarath (Khammouan) & Luang Prabang in the far north close to China. 

Evans said: “We have entire cities discovered beneath the forest that no one knew were there – at Preah Khan of Kompong Svay and, it turns out, we uncovered only a part of Mahendraparvata on Phnom Kulen [in the 2012 survey] … this time we got the whole deal and it’s big, the size of Phnom Penh big.”
 A research fellow at Siem Reap’s École Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) and the architect of the Cambodian Archaeological Lidar Initiative (Cali), Evans will speak at the Royal Geographic Society in London about the findings on Monday.
Evans obtained European Research Council (ERC) funding for the project, based on the success of his first lidar (light detection and ranging) survey in Cambodia in 2012. That uncovered a complex urban landscape connecting medieval temple-cities, such as Beng Mealea and Koh Ker, to Angkor, and confirmed what archaeologists had long suspected, that there was a city beneath Mount Kulen. It was not until the results of the significantly larger 2015 survey were analysed that the size of the city was apparent.
The Angkor City was historically largest capital with dense population of Khmer people and other small ethnic group bringing in from nearby area. We hope this research can bring more understanding about Angkor City and Khmer Empire, especially how the development and collapse of this city occurred. We, Cambodian, really thank so much for the research done and hope more data could be revealed as soon as possible. Ancient town is supposed to equip with higher scientific technology in city development and temple construction. Many mysteries of Angkor is still here and we, young generation, wish to learn more and accept it as the lesson for future generation planning!