Ancient, hidden cities uncovered by lasers in Cambodia's jungle

The vast cityscapes had been lost to the jungle for centuries, but that's before helicopter-mounted lasers came along.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
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The cities have been discovered in the vicinity of Angkor Wat, Cambodia's biggest tourist attraction.

Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images

Vast, ancient cities hidden in thick jungle have been uncovered by lasers in Cambodia.

Australian archaeologist Damian Evans unveiled the details of the temples in full at the Royal Geographic Society in London on Monday, the Guardian reported.

Found near the famous Angkor Wat temples, a United Nations' World Heritage site in the southeast Asian country, the discovery sheds new light on the massive scale of the ancient Khmer empire.

The hidden cities were identified using helicopter-mounted lasers that can penetrate thick vegetation and trees to create a map of the underlying terrain. As smaller maps came together, it became apparent to archaeologists that a complex cityscape has been lurking in the undergrowth, undiscovered for many centuries.

Multiple cities ranging from 900 to 1,400 years old were identified using the technology. Some are a similar size to Cambodia's modern-day capital Phnom Penh.