After five years of exploration and excavation, a team of archaeologists has uncovered a 127-kilometer (79-mile) wall — which locals have called “Vietnam’s Great Wall.”
Professor Phan Huy LÃª, president of the Vietnam Association of Historians, said: “This is the longest monument in Southeast Asia.”
The wall is built of alternating sections of stone and earth, with some sections reaching a height of up to four meters.
In 2005, Dr. Andrew Hardy, associate professor and head of the Hanoi branch of Ã‰cole FranÃ§aise d’ExtrÃªme-Orient (French School of Asian Studies), found an odd reference to a “Long Wall of Quang Ngai” in an 1885 document compiled by the Nguyen Dynasty court entitled, “Descriptive Geography of the Emperor Dong Khanh.”
It sparked his imagination and a major exploration and excavation project for a team led by Hardy and Dr. Nguyen Tien Dong, an archaeologist at the Institute of Archaeology (Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences). The wall was discovered after some five years of work.
It stretches from northern Quang Ngai Province south into the province of Binh Dinh and is arguably the greatest engineering feat of the Nguyen Dynasty.
Construction of the Long Wall started in 1819 under the direction of Le Van Duyet, a high-ranking mandarin serving Emperor Gia Long.
Despite the locals’ nickname referencing the Great Wall of China, the Vietnam Wall is more like Hadrian’s Wall — a Roman-era wall on the border of England and Scotland.
Like Hadrian’s Wall, the Quang Ngai wall was built along a pre-existing road. More than 50 ancient forts have been identified along its length, established to maintain security and levy taxes.
There is evidence to suggest that many of the forts, markets and temples built along the road are much older than the wall itself.
It served to demarcate territory and regulate trade and travel between the Viet in the plains and the HrÃª tribes in the mountain valleys.
Research suggests it may have been built in cooperation between both the Viet and the HrÃª.
According to experts, the wall’s construction was in the interests of both communities, and inhabitants in both zones tell stories about how their respective ancestors built the wall to protect their territory from incursions by the other side.