The northern wall of the Great Wall was not built to prevent invaders but to guard residents in and out and collect taxes.
A section of the Great Wall in Beijing. (Photo: Wiki).
When Israeli researchers first mapped the 740km-long north wall of the Great Wall, their findings went against previous assumptions. "Before our study, most people thought that the purpose of building walls was to prevent Genghis Khan's troops , " said archaeologist Gideon Shelach-Lavi at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who led the research.
However, the northern section of the wall is largely located in Mongolia, running through valleys and is relatively low, so it is not conducive to military purposes such as deterring enemies. The team's conclusion is that this section of the wall helps the military guard or prevent residents and cattle from entering and leaving, possibly to collect taxes. People can walk through the wall to find warmer pastures in the south during the prolonged cold weather.
The process of constructing the Great Wall, which consisted of several walls with a total length of thousands of kilometers, began in the 3rd century BC and took several hundred years. The northern section of the wall, also known as the "Genghis Khan Wall", was built in the 11th and 13th centuries using clay and consists of 72 watchtowers.
Shelach-Lavi and colleagues from Israel, Mongolia and the United States use drones, high-resolution satellite imagery and archeological tools to map wall sections. They published their findings in the June 2020 issue of Antiquity magazine.