Maro Mountain Fortress (Maro Sanseong, 馬老山城), a stone-stacked mountain stronghold built in the Baekje period, has revealed its full appearance through five excavation surveys so far. These surveys have identified artifacts and features from the 9th century, among which the “Marogwan” (馬老官, the office of Maro) roof tiles engraved with “Maro” 馬老, the old name of Gwangyang during the Baekje period, received the attention. The “Marogwan” tiles are intriguing in that their estimated production period (the 9th century) and the period when the place name “Maro” was used are different. Moreover, uniquely patterned eave-edge tiles, Chinese bronze mirrors, porcelains, bronze ornaments, and a bronze mirror engraved with “Wanga Jogyeong” (王家造鏡, a mirror made in the Wang family) were excavated from the 9th-century ruins of building and water collection facilities. The unprecedented combination of artifacts, which has never been found in any other excavation case, reveals the unique character of the forces that operated Maro Mountain Fortress. The 9th century witnessed the expansion of the territories of powerful local warlords as the control of the central government over the provinces weakened due to the power struggle between the central nobility. Given this historical background, the excavation of the tiles inscribed with ancient place names, such as “Maro”, in the strategic fortresses of Goguryeo and Baekje’s old territories strongly suggests the possibility that the producers of the tiles were powerful local warlords.
In conclusion, the forces behind Maro Mountain Fortress in the 9th century were independent powerful local families. The “Marogwan” engraved roof tiles, as a concrete expression of their awareness of the national lineage, were produced to secure legitimacy and dominance over the territory in terms of the strategic aspect of operating the regional strongholds.