Shades of Middle-earth: ancient fortresses loom over the Himalayas

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Archaeology

A survey reveals clusters of mountainside forts that would have relayed alerts to one another by fireplace or smoke.

With the Dark Tower of Sauron, the capital of Gondor and lots of extra, J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth is full of fortified citadels and imposing fortresses. Hundreds of years in the past, a area in the central Himalayas may need resembled Tolkien’s fictional realm.

Nagendra Rawat at Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Srinagar, India, and his colleagues analysed the distribution of the remnants of 193 medieval strongholds in northern India. The researchers recognized no less than 12 clusters of forts. In every cluster, the forts had been situated 15–25 kilometres from each other — distances over which fireplace and smoke alerts could be seen.

Most fortified websites had been constructed on ridges or hilltops, and a few would have been seen from a number of different forts. These ‘hubs’ might have served to relay details about enemy incursions or different occasions to a big quantity of close by websites.

Each community of strongholds might signify both a state inside the Katyuri kingdom, which managed the area from the eighth to the twelfth century, or an impartial chiefdom from the eleventh century. The visually linked forts may need facilitated the area’s fifteenth-century unification, the authors say.



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