|A technique called decorrelation stretch analysis, which exaggerates subtle color differences, revealed images like this one showing two elephants facing each other.|
Credit: Antiquity, Tan et al.
Each year, millions of visitors flock to Angkor Wat, an ancient temple in modern-day Cambodia. There, they marvel at the 900-year-old towers, a giant moat and the shallow relief sculptures of Hindu gods. But what they can't see are 200 hidden paintings on the temple walls.
New, digitally enhanced images reveal detailed murals at Angkor Wat showing elephants, deities, boats, orchestral ensembles and people riding horses — all invisible to the naked eye.
Many of the faded markings could be graffiti left behind by pilgrims after Angkor Wat was abandoned in the 15th century. But the more elaborate paintings may be relics of the earliest attempts to restore the temple, researchers said. [See Photos of Angkor Wat's Secret Paintings]