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In June, an international team of researchers announced the discovery of a 1,200-year-old city cloaked in the forests of northern Cambodia. It was the size of the country’s modern capital and so sophisticated that the lead scientist feels it may even produce a better understanding of modern cities.

Abandoned to the jungle for a millennium, Mahendraparvata (Mountain of the Great Indra) was located – with the help of a Canadian engineering firm – atop Phnom Kulen, a sparsely populated plateau just 40 kilometres northeast of Angkor Wat, the famed temple complex that is Cambodia’s greatest tourist attraction (it drew more than two million visitors last year).

To contemporary Cambodians, Phnom Kulen is a place of living myth. It was here that, in 802, the legendary King Jayavarman II declared himself the divinely sanctioned ruler of a newly unified and independent Cambodia. This gave rise to the Khmer Empire – a civilization that would build the ancient city of Angkor, the largest preindustrial settlement in the world, and dominate the region for the next 600 years.

How a vast ancient city was discovered in the Cambodian jungle - The Globe and Mail

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