Monday, June 24, 2013

LiDAR, Mahendraparvata and the Media

On June 14 and 15 the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported the high tech mapping and “discovery” of previously unknown Angkorian era ruins and extent of the the city complex of Mahendraparvata in Siem Reap province Cambodia. The discovery was made through the use of LiDAR, a laser scanning device that can provide precise landscape mapping. The overly dramatic wording of the SMH article provoked some snickers and snide comments on social media, and as the story spread to other news outlets the wording became even more dramatic, even fanciful – Mahendraparvata evolved from a “Lost City,” to a “Lost World” and even “Atlantis-like.” With that the social media jabs shifted into high gear.

On June 17 The Cambodia Daily published an article on the discoveries which seemed to imply some controversy between the archaeologists about whether the city could accurately be said to have been “discovered,” since its existence had been known for more than a century. On June 18 I noted on Twitter that the media coverage of the discovery was becoming a story in itself. But admittedly I too took a poke in this blog at the Indiana Jones-like language of the SMH article. Unfortunately, in all this chatter over how the discovery was being reported, the significance of the new archaeological work at Mahendraparvata was becoming lost.

Enter ‘Alison in Cambodia,’ an archaeologist and blogger in Cambodia who correctly brought the discussion back down to Earth. She helped refocus the discussion back on the archaeology, putting the significance of the discoveries at Mahendraparvata and the ground breaking use of LiDAR back into perspective. And in something of a scoop, she also managed to secure an extensive response from Damian Evans, the archaeologist at the center of the new discoveries, on the work at Mahendraparvata and the media uproar.

The purpose of this post is to try to bring some extra attention to these excellent blog entries by Alison in Cambodia, as well as provide links to some of the other relevant articles on the subject. Great work Alison. Thank you for helping clear the air and put the spotlight back on the science.

Alison in Cambodia: LiDAR and Lost Cities

Alison in Cambodia: “Lost Cities” and the press

SMH: Revealed: a lost city and a holy temple

SMH: Lost horizons: mediaeval city uncovered

The Age: The lost city

Phnom Penh Post: Lasers reveal Angkor city four times bigger than previously believed

The Cambodia Daily: Archaeologist Says Existence of Siem Reap Lost City Long Known

Sophat Soeung’s Connecting the Dots: Angkor’s Founding City Revealed on Mount Kulen

CSM: In Cambodia's jungles, a lost world is found

FOX News: Atlantis-like lost city unearthed in Cambodia

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