A complex three times larger than suspected

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The temple d'Angkor Wat : A complex three times larger than suspected

The city .., the capital of the Khmer Empire has radiated throughout the Asia South-East in the ninth to the fifteenth century.

The urban complex around the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia was three times larger than suspected, according to an international team of archaeologists who surveyed the basement using radar NASA released Monday show their work to the United States of America.

The city built around Angkor, which was the capital of the Khmer empire between the 9th and the 16th century, extended over nearly 3,000 square kilometers. This area makes it the largest urban development in the preindustrial era, eclipsing by far the Mayan cities like Tikal in Guatemala.

This complex had the potential to feed a population of 500,000 people, according to the authors of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) dated August 13. The archaeologists were trying to establish the boundaries of urbanization around Angkor in the province of Siem Reap since the 50s. But this research has been hampered by residential construction and modern farming.

In 2000, this group of archaeologists Cambodian, French and Australian asked NASA, the U.S. space agency, to assist in this project with its radar satellites in orbit. The images provided by these radars, which are able to penetrate the basement, have to find traces of ancient roads, canals and ponds.
By combining these radar images, shots of aircraft and topographic surveys, these archaeologists have been able to find the location of thousands of pools and 74 temples.

They concluded that the network of irrigation Canneaux allowed to feed on rice crops ranging from 20 to 25 miles north and south of Angkor to Lake of Tonle Sap.
This work has also helped to find clues that tend to confirm the theory that an environmental disaster caused the collapse of the Khmer civilization in the 14th century.

Overpopulation, deforestation and erosion of topsoil combined with floods could have had catastrophic consequences for the medieval population, say the authors of this study, Christophe Pottier of the French School of Far East in Siem Reap Cambodia.


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