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Iron Age hill fort of HueneburgAn Iron Age hill fort very similar perhaps to what Tolkien had in mind for Edoras in Rohan. Here the bottom of the hill is excavated for better protection, the total height above the valley floor being estimated at 200 feet; also note that the single approach is a narrow ramp at the bottom.

The Heuneburg, on the upper Danube River
Baden-Würtemberg, Germany.

Neolithic house at Pan-P'o-Ts'un, ChinaThis Neolithic construction is actually found at Pan-P'o-Ts'un, China at the middle of the Yellow River valley. Still, Tolkien visualised the Dunlendings as a 'dark' people, in the same sense as dark Africa in the 19th Century, and implied that they adhered to ancient practices and superstitions.

The Neolithic Village at Pan-p'o, Sian
Institute of Archaeology,
Peking; 1963

'Hallowes' at MycenŠ, GreeceThe Hallowes; the tombs of the kings and stewards of Gondor were below the Citadel and the White Tower in the upper levels of the city of Minas Tirith. The approach was by way of the Rath Dínen [the Silent Street] and Fen Hollen [the Closed Door].
Note in this representation of Grave Circle A at Mycenæ, Greece how similar the layout is; the great gate [Lion Gate] is the main approach to the Citadel at the upper center of the picture. There is one opening in the grave circle [although not a 'closed door' in this representation], and the whole circle is on raised ground. The Citadel is nestled against the slopes of Mt. Zara, the ground sloping away to other tombs and residences, very reminiscent of Tolkien's description of Minas Tirith. The Hallowes at Mycenæ are estimated to date from about 1200 BCE.

Hannibal transporting elephantsTolkien assigns the oliphants to the Haradrim [Southrons]; in the cinematic representation these creatures are shown as gargantuan, with tusks more like prehistoric mammoths.
Here we see a picture of Hannibal's elephants on rafts coming ashore for the Second Punic War. Hannibal was a general of Carthage, believed to have been founded by the Phoenicians, descendants of the ancient Greeks; the colony was on the southern shore of the Mediterranean directly across from Sicily, and its armies came north to war against Rome.
Author Will Cuppy, in his book The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody [1950, Henry Holt and Company, New York] says of the Carthaginian elephants: [they] were trained to rush forward and trample the Romans, but only too frequently they would rush backward and trample the Carthaginians.
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