Lidar technology exposes sprawling metropolis surrounding ancient Cambodian temple
©Asia Images Group Pte Ltd/Alamy
Smartphone-toting pilgrims regularly stream into northern Cambodia from all over the world. Their destination: Angkor Wat, a medieval temple that’s famous for massive towers and majestic stone carvings of Hindu gods, spirits and mythological battle scenes. The site, considered the world’s largest religious monument, drew more than 2.3 million visitors in 2014.
Angkor Wat’s sightseers encounter a study in contrasts. This architectural wonder of human civilization ascends skyward, on the verge of being engulfed by nature below. Tourists walk along a path that crosses over a moat and through the temple’s western side, the one entrance cleared of vegetation. Lush forest stops just short of the rest of the structure. Outside the moat, trees, thick ground cover and ponds dominate the landscape.
While adventurous visitors snap pictures, scientists are using high-tech approaches to uncover Angkor Wat’s hidden side, long obscured by all that