Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Largest pre-industrial settlement found at Angkor, Cambodia

A huge urban sprawl once surrounded Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat temple, according to a newly created map. The scale of the settlement makes it more plausible that the inhabitants of Angkor brought on their own society's collapse through environmental degradation. The new map uses data from high-resolution, ground-sensing radar and aerial photographs to augment extensive fieldwork.

By detecting slight variations in vegetation and ground moisture due to underlying ruins, the radar reveals in unprecedented detail the location of temples - including 94 newly identified temple sites plus another 74 that have yet to be checked on the ground - ponds, roads and canals.

Researchers in the Greater Angkor Project at the University of Sydney in Australia, together with colleagues in Australia, Cambodia and France, used the techniques to survey the entire watershed of the Angkor region.

More, including a view of the map at New Scientist

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