According to media reports the newly discovered stone wall shares a number of characteristics with the emblematic Great Wall of China.
The discovery was originally reported by People’s Daily Online, before the story was relayed by Qin Xie for The Daily Mail. The stone wall appears to encircle a mountain top in the remote Gongyi area of central China, and may have been used as a military outpost.
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Heavily fortified wall encircles remote mountain top
Measuring around 3,200 feet in length, the wall features gate towers, forts, watchtowers and lookout holes. The wall seems to encircle a mountaintop, which is incredibly steep on three sides, making for an incredibly well-defended military outpost.
Photos have been taken of the wall, revealing that buildings can be seen inside it. Experts do not yet know what the site was used for, neither do they know its exact age.
Local residents claim that the structure is from the Ming dynasty, which ruled China from 1368 to 1644, although this has not yet been confirmed. The Great Wall of China was also built during this time, and the fact that both were built from stacked stones has increased comparisons between the two structures.
Structure allegedly built by Ming dynasty
The Great Wall of China is the largest man-made structure on Earth, measuring around 13,170 miles in length. Different sections of the wall were built over a period of approximately 1,000 years, slowly improving the defense of the kingdom against enemies from the north.
Although building work began under the Qin dynasty, which ruled from 259BC to 210BC, large sections were added under the Ming dynasty. Should experts prove that the newly discovered fortress wall dates from the same period, it would provide a fascinating new area of study for historians.
The heavy fortification of the site would appear to suggest that it was used as a strategic military base, although details have not been confirmed. The gate tower section is around 26 feet high, and visitors have observed holes through which bars could be placed in order to lock the gate against intruders.
Potential intruders could only reach the gate tower along a narrow path. Security is further improved by the fact that the remaining three sides are built on an almost sheer rock face.
Experts have yet to study the newly discovered wall
It may seem amazing that such a large wall went undiscovered for so long, but its remote location hid it from curious eyes. Although locals claim that the wall was constructed by the Ming, carvings on some of the stones show that parts of the wall was reconstructed between 1851 to 1861.
Most of the wall has retained its structural integrity, although one part has collapsed. Further damage has been caused by goat herders who often visit the area.
Locals are hoping that they can ensure greater protection for the site by raising awareness of its existence. Chinese officials have not revealed whether they plan to repair and maintain the wall.
Gongyi is located in Henan province, on the great central plain of China. The nearest section of the Great Wall is found 539 miles away, so the fortress may have served as a remote military outpost.
With further study from historians and archaeologists the wall may start to give up some of its secrets, and may provide new insight into the defense strategy of successive Chinese dynasties.