Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire, has been mapped for the first time using laser light.
The technique called LIDAR, which uses billions of reflected light beams to map the topography below a thick forest canopy, revealed that the city was even more massive than previously thought.
The new analysis "shows there were hundreds, if not thousands of settlements, mounds, ponds, roads and urban blocks which actually organized a quite dense city," said study co-author Christophe Pottier, an archaeologist and co-director of the Greater Angkor Project. "This area of dense occupation was much bigger than what we were expecting." (See Images of Angkor Wat, New Temple City)
The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Ancient empire Angkor is located in modern-day Cambodia, and for several centuries, was the capital city of the Khmer Empire. The city and its surrounding areas may have housed up to 1 million people and, at its height, was considered the largest city in the world. Angkor flourished until the 15th century, when it was mysteriously abandoned. The crown jewel of the complex, Angkor Wat, is a temple built between A.D. 1113 and 1150 that rises 213 feet (65 meters) into the air and spans 500 acres (200 hectares).