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Archaeologists investigate the mysterious Mongolian Arc

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A new study by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, working in collaboration with the National University of Mongolia, has revealed new insights regarding the Mongolian Arc, a 405 km long wall system located in Eastern Mongolia.

The Mongolian Arc consists of an earthen wall, a trench, and numerous structures, which is part of a much larger system of walls in Mongolia and China built between the 11th and 13th centuries AD.

The study, published in the Journal of Field Archaeology, involved a comprehensive approach combining remote sensing data collection, archaeological field surveys, and analysis through geographic information systems (GIS).

This enabled the study authors to create the first precise mapping of the complete scope of the Mongolian Arc, encompassing details of its orientation and variations in width. In addition, they were able to trace the complete wall line and identify 34 structures associated with it.

“Understanding the significance of the Mongolian Arc unlocks profound insights into medieval wall systems, raising pertinent questions about the motives, functionality, and enduring consequences of such colossal constructions,” said Prof. Gideon Shelach-Lavi.

Upon comparing the Mongol Arc with another wall section to the north, the team observed that the Arc exhibits structures in closer proximity to each other, averaging around 8 kilometres apart, whereas the other wall’s structures are situated at distances ranging from 20 to 30 kilometres.

Also, another major difference between the Arc and the north section of wall is the large gaps found in the Arc that range between 3 and 8 km’s, with some around 15 km’s.

Through the examination of historical documents from the official records of the Liao and Jin dynasties, it has been suggested that the Mongal Arc segment was hurriedly constructed in AD 1200 to serve a defensive measure against imminent Mongol invasions.

However, the lack of visibility and communication between each structure contradicts the Arc effectively serving a military function. Instead, the study hypothesises that the Arc was built to regulate the movement of both people and livestock, while also serving an administrative function for tax collection.

The study authors said: “We are currently making plans for the next stage of field research, which will build upon the results reported here and aims to test some of our hypotheses. During the upcoming field season, our objectives include conducting test excavations at two of the structures and the wall line itself. Through these excavations, we hope to gain a better understanding of their features and structures, determine the construction dates and duration of use, and shed light on the activities of the people.”

Header Image Credit : The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Giant catapult shots discovered from siege of Kenilworth Castle

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Archaeologists have uncovered eight 13th century catapult shots from the 1266 siege of Kenilworth Castle.

Kenilworth Castle, located in the town of Kenilworth in Warwickshire, England, is both a semi-royal palace and historic fortress.

Founded in the 1120s, the castle was the scene of the removal of Edward II from the English throne and the Earl of Leicester’s reception of Elizabeth I in 1575.

During the First Civil War (1642 to 1646), Kenilworth formed a useful counterbalance to the Parliamentary stronghold of Warwick. Following the defeat of royalist forces, Parliament ordered the slighting of Kenilworth 1649, leaving the castle a romantic ruin and popular tourist attraction over the centuries.

Recent works to improve a pathway on castle grounds has led to the discovery of eight giant catapult shots. According to the archaeologists, the shots date from the Siege of Kenilworth (1266), a six-month siege of the castle during the Second Barons’ War.

The conflict was between a number of barons led by Simon de Montfort (who had custody of Kenilworth Castle) against the royalist forces of King Henry III, and later his son, the future King Edward I.

Image Credit : English Heritage

According to historical accounts, the siege was the largest to occur in Medieval England and involved numerous “turres ligneas” (wooden towers), trebuchets, and catapults which fired the giant shots.

The shots are of varying sizes, with the largest weighing 105 kg and the smallest just 1 kg. “’These would have caused some serious damage when fired from war machines. Records show that one of Henry III’s wooden siege towers, containing around 200 crossbowmen, was destroyed by just one well-aimed missile,” said Will Wyeth, English Heritage’s Properties Historian.

Header Image Credit : English Heritage

Sources : English Heritage

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Sappers clear over 4,700 dangerous objects from WWII

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A team of sappers under archaeological supervision have cleared over 4,700 dangerous objects from WWII on the Westerplatte Peninsula in Gdańsk, Poland.

Situated at the mouth of the Dead Vistula on the Baltic Sea coast, the peninsula was the site of the Battle of Westerplatte, one of the initial clashes between Polish and German forces during the invasion of Poland in WWII.

The Polish garrison held out for seven days, repelling thirteen German assaults. The battle became a symbol of Polish resistance, tying up substantial German forces at Westerplatte and preventing over 3,000 German soldiers from providing fire support in the nearby battles of Hel and Gdynia.

Image Credit : The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk led the clearing of the Westerplatte area, working in conjunction with soldiers from the 43rd Naval Sapper Battalion, the Engineer Battalion Sapper Company from the 2nd Sapper Regiment from Kazuń Nowy, and a team of archaeologists to supervise and document any archaeological material.

The clearance works have uncovered over 4,700 dangerous objects in the duration of the project along with 180 historical artefacts.

“To date, specialists have penetrated an area of ​​over 13.5 hectares, resulting in the discovery of over 4,700 dangerous objects, including 3 air bombs, one of which weighing 500 kg was located only 30 cm below the ground surface ” – said the head of the Archaeological Department of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, Filip Kuczma.

Some of these objects include almost 200 artillery shells, mortar and hand grenades, and small arms ammunition. Other WWII objects include elements from the soldier’s uniforms, lead seals, and parts of the railway infrastructure in Westerplatte.

The team also uncovered cannonballs, musket shells, coins, decorative stove tiles, and ceramics from the time of the War of the Polish succession (1733 to 1738) and the Napoleonic period (1799 to 1815).

Header Image Credit : The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

Sources : The Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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