Mahendraparvata, the legendary capital of the Khmer empire, was discovered by archaeologists after hundreds of years of loss.
Cambodian people are always proud of their origins from the Khmer empire, one of the largest expansive nations in Asian history. At its peak, the Khmer empire had an area equal to three-fourths of China’s territory.
The empire’s achievements were maintained between the 9th and 15th centuries before weakening and disintegrating. Today, Cambodia has less than a tenth of the territory of the former empire. Also, for this reason, the search for ancient ruins of the Khmer empire is quite difficult.
It is difficult to explore the entire plateau of Phnom Kulen, where Mahendraparvata is located.
After a long search, the Khmer National Archeology Association recently announced the exact location of the legendary capital Mahendraparvata. This capital was one of the first capitals of the Khmer empire and was located in the northeast of the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia. In terms of age, Mahendraparvata is even older than Angkor Wat.
Mahendraparvata is a legendary city that has been lost for hundreds of years. The isolation of the monuments of Mahendraparvata has led archaeologists to spend a lot of time delineating the entire area of this city.
According to the latest media announcement, archaeologists identified the area of the capital Mahendraparvata up to 40-50 square kilometers. The entire road system works at Mahendraparvata are planned and built separately on the highlands of the mountainous region of Phnom Kulen.
Not far from the system of Angkor Wat temples, Mahendraparvata owns a large area including many road networks and large plots of land. Scattered in the area are civil and spiritual constructions. A series of small temples, mounds, shallow ponds, and irrigation structures were found surrounding two large structures including a royal palace and a massive temple built in pyramid architecture.
No signs of walls or moats were found around the capital Mahendraparvata area. Therefore, researchers consider Mahendraparvata to be a completely unique place in the Khmer world.
Inside the ancient capital Mahendraparvata.
For a long time, many ancient relics of this country are still deep inside the mysterious murky forests. Since 2016, aerial laser scanning technology has helped the Cambodian archaeological association discover a lot of lost monuments. Also thanks to technological innovation, the desire to discover the legendary capital Mahendraparvata of the Cambodian archaeological association has come true.
In the multi-year project, a team of scientists used aerial laser scanning and ground measurements to create a map of Mahendraparvata, also known as Mount Indra, King of the Gods.
Mahendraparvata was one of the first Khmer capitals – the empire existed from the 9th to the 15th century BC, but until now many mysteries remain hidden. Scientists have theorized that Mahendraparvata is located in the Phnom Kulen plateau, about 48km north of Siem Reap; however, it did not find much evidence. The Phnom Kulen plateau is quite remote, inaccessible, covered by dense forests and may have been the site of mines under the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s.
For decades, Mahendraparvata has been dubbed the “lost city”; But now, scientists claim, they have identified it.
Thanks to high technology, one of the first capitals of the Khmer Empire was discovered.
“We confirm the hypothesis based on evidence that Mahendraparvata – the capital from the 8th to 9th BC BC of the Khmer empire – is located in the Phnom Kulen mountain range,” the article published in the journal Antiquity wrote.
The researchers turned to overhead laser scanners, which “have a unique ability to see through plant layers and provide high-resolution models of the forest floor.”
They had to map the whole region on two separate campaigns – the first in 2012 on about 37 km2 and the second in 2015 on about 975 km2.
The results from the aerial scan together with the information gathered from the field survey have been aggregated to create a map that shows the main roads and streets of the capital. The map also shows the details of the locations of the unfinished reservoirs, dams, temple walls, even a palace …
According to the article, these findings have opened the door to learning more about the Khmer Empire and the region of Angkor. It shows that the capital builders have adopted urban planning, “a sophisticated water system” and other innovations.
An astonishing finding is that the city is built on linear axes in the southeast-northwest directions – like an early version of the grid system applied in modern urban planning.