Satellite maps helped an important archaeological discovery: The new data from NASA’a AIRSAR satellite reveals that Cambodia’s fascinating temple complex Angkor Vat was once at the center of a large urban settlement with a complex irrigation system. New analysis also shows that the demise of the city came as the result of serious enviromental failures including deforestation. Yet another lesson to take, for us 21st century folks.

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Angkor Wat

The researchers disovered at least 74 new temples


The great medieval temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia was once at the centre of a sprawling urban settlement, according to a new, detailed map of the area.

Using Nasa satellites, an international team have discovered at least 74 new temples and complex irrigation systems.

The map, published in the journal PNAS, extends the known settlement by 1000 sq km, about the size of Los Angeles.

Analysis also lends weight to the theory that Angkor’s residents were architects of the city’s demise.

“The large-scale city engineered its own downfall by disrupting its local environment by expanding continuously into the surrounding forests,” said Damian Evans of the University of Sydney and one of the authors of the paper and map.

Cambodia map

Working with researchers from Australia, Cambodia and France, the map was produced from ground surveys, airborne photography, and ground-sensing radar from Nasa’s AIRSAR satellite.

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