According to Lara Dunston at The Guardian, archaeologist Damian Evans, research fellow at the École française d’Extrême-Orient and leader of the Cambodian Archaeological Lidar Initiative, attached a laser scanning system known as Lidar to helicopter skids. Similar to radar, Lidar—short for light detection and ranging—pelts the terrain with laser beams, collecting data that later makes a high-definition picture of the ground beneath the vegetation below. Because many of the structures built by the Khmer were made of wood and other biodegradable materials, they have disappeared and been covered by the jungle. But Lidar is able to detect mounds of earth, foundations, walls, roads and other permanent structures not visible through the thick vegetation.
Evans’ project, as described in the Journal of Archeological Science, surveyed 734 square miles of terrain over 90 hours. The results revealed entire population centers and temple complexes hidden in the jungle.
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