Exploring the enigmatic Mongolian Arc, a 405-km wall system in eastern Mongolia, a team of archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the National University of Mongolia embarked on a comprehensive study to unravel its historical tapestry and purpose. Published in the Journal of Field Archaeology, their paper details the methodologies and technologies employed in this intriguing investigation.
Unlike its well-studied counterpart, the Great Wall of China, the Mongolian Arc, extending into Mongolia as an independent country, has remained relatively unexplored. Motivated by this research gap, the team employed diverse approaches to decode the mysteries encapsulated within this wall.
One crucial aspect involved meticulous mapping of the wall, spanning from Dornod Province to Sukhbaatar Province, tracing the Mongolian-China border. Previous studies revealed its 34 structures, constructed with a combination of earthen walls and trenches.
The historical timeline of the wall's construction proved elusive, with records placing it ambiguously between the 11th and 13th centuries. To enhance understanding, the team delved into weather records, unraveling the environmental challenges the wall endured, and analyzed satellite imagery to discern correlations between wall locations and the surrounding terrain. Field studies further elucidated the wall's composition and condition.
The research uncovered intriguing revelations. Notably, the wall displayed conspicuous gaps, challenging the notion of its role as an impervious barrier against invaders. Instead, indications point to rapid construction in response to specific threats. The purpose also veers away from traditional defense, hinting at potential roles in controlling movement—be it of people, animals, or perhaps woven into a taxation system.
The unexpected revelation unfolded as the team observed that many outposts were strategically placed, offering limited visibility into the surrounding territory. This challenges the conventional perception of a defensive structure and opens avenues for alternative theories about its intended functions.
While definitive answers regarding the wall's construction purpose and a precise timeline remained elusive, the researchers acknowledge the complexity of the puzzle and express their commitment to ongoing exploration. The continuation of their work aims to unveil further layers of insight into the history and significance of the Mongolian Arc, adding new chapters to the story of this intriguing archaeological marvel.