Tag Archives: Ancient History

A Brief History of Some Walls: The Great Wall of Gorgan

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The Great Wall of Gorgan

For our exciting journey on A Brief History of Some Walls in History, this week we dig through the lands of ancient Persia, acquainting our shovels and brushes with the enigma of The Great Wall of Gorgan.

Excavation site at Qareh Deeb. [Source: http://www.heritageinstitute.com]

Divar-e Gorgan better known as The Great Wall of Gorgan is a massive structure in north-eastern Persian [modern-day Iran] which borders present day Turkmenistan. The wall is also known as The Red Snake because of the red brick used during construction. It snakes 195 kilometres west to east from the foot of the Elburz Mountains to the Caspian Sea. Today, marine sediments cover much of the westernmost section of the wall because of higher sea levels. The studies conducted on the wall show the refined engineering capabilities of the Sasanians architects. The Edinburgh Research Explorer Team in 2006 makes an interesting point that, the Gorgan Wall differs from other walls. It does not follow the rise and fall of the terrain rather it tries to keep up a gentle gradient like the flow of a canal.

Although The Great Wall of Gorgan is more than 1,000 years older than The Great Wall of China and longer than The Hadrian Wall and Antoine Wall joined, the Gorgan Wall is one of the most obscure walls of ancient history. Compared to other walls both younger and smaller, the expeditions are fewer – the first tour by Dr. Kiani in 1971. The next documented excursion to the wall was in the 1999, followed by excavations from 2005-2008. Recent archaeological studies show that The Great Wall of Gorgan borders or probably joined The Tammishe Wall near the Caspian Sea. It is important to highlight archaeologists’ on-going research of probable connection between the western section of The Great Wall of Gorgan and The Tammishe Wall. The arrangement of the brick kilns on each wall edifice, brick size, the location of the forts and the direction of canals show that both structure may share a common tradition. Are they part of the separate monuments or separate two parts of one wall?

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A Brief History of Some Walls: Hadrian Wall

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This week in the series  A Brief History of Some Walls in History  we journey to a wall which is very popular with visitors in England, contributing  much to the economy of  the Northern Districts:The Hadrian Wall.

The wall travelling 73 miles [80 Roman miles] through Carlisle, Newcastle, Northumbria and Cumbria, is the most elaborate Northern most defence frontier of the Roman Empire in the UK. In 1987, The Hadrian Wall received World Heritage status from UNESCO because of its relevance as a reminder of Roman military practise in Britain. According to John J. Wilkes, historians at first doubted  the emperor who constructed the wall, thus it was known as the Roman Wall or the Picts Wall [the Picts attacked around the time the Romans rule ended]. At the beginning of the quarter of the century, excavations dubbed Emperor Publius Aelius Hadrianus as the builder, he ruled from (117-138 AD). Guy de la Bédoyère notes that the wall became more an Aelius Wall in 2003, when a metal detector user found a bronze small enamelled vessel, in the West Midlands. The cup, though not the first Roman souvenir of the area provides evidence for a Hadrian wall because of its inscriptions.

The Hadrian Wall constructed from AD 120 to 130 AD was ten feet, made of stone in the west but composed of turf in the east. Some authors believe the use of white paint on both sides of the grey stone wall, was the Roman way of the wall standing out to show the power and dominance of the imperial empire. Workers built a ditch along the Northern face of the wall and forts occupied the length of the wall. Every Roman mile,  the men built castles along the wall known as milecastles. The Vallum [later called by that name] was a ditch and mound system which served as an earthen frontier to the south of the wall. Different weather patterns and constant repairs to finished and unfinished parts of the wall, kept the army very busy on the frontier. According to Guy de la Bédoyère, the materials for the wall were free but the  Emperor paid his soldiers.

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