Jason Walker

Travelled to 12 countries / regions

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Has been teaching and living in China for 6 years.



Asia > China > Beijing > Great Wall Of China > Useful Info
Submitted on Jul 31, 2020 Useful Info

Why was the Great Wall built and How was it built?

Why is it called The Great Wall?

In the north of China there is a wall that stretches 2,119,618,180 meters. It stretches from the sea to the desert. It crosses mountains, it crosses plains. It runs through fields and ponds, around villages and towns.

Because of its sheer size, it's called, the "Long Wall of Miles." And in the eyes of the West

Its size and length are not enough to explain its infinite charm, so let's call it a "Great Wall."

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It's been given such an inestimable name.

Is it just because...

Is it a big, long wall?

What makes the Wall so great?

To answer that question.

Let's start with its construction.

The birth of greatness

Looking beyond East Asia, you will find this land is separated by two colors.

Of which green areas have a higher percentage of vegetation cover, the yellow areas have less vegetation cover.

There is a huge difference between the yellow and the green in reality. In the green zone, where the land was fertile and suitable for cultivation, agriculture developed first. The yellow zone, on the other hand, was relatively infertile and could only be used for migratory pastoralism, where the two zones intersected.

Then a natural line was formed.

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Why was the Great Wall built?

During the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, private ownership of land already existed in the farming areas south of the intersection of agriculture and herding.

There were years of war among the lords over land. They were in desperate need of an offensive and defensive system to protect the land they had already gained. This is when the Great Wall was born.

The two sides of the agro-pastoral intersection had become two very different scenes by this time. The farming areas were becoming more productive, while the nomadic areas were living in a state of limbo. Whenever a natural disaster strikes, the herders move south to compete with the farmers for resources, a conflict that escalates. A 10,000-mile blockade is about to begin.

How was the Great Wall built?

In 221 B.C., Qin Shi Huang unified the six kingdoms. The unified society allowed the rapid accumulation of wealth. They desperately needed a strong defense to defend every possession of the empire.

In order to solve this problem, the king of Qin ordered General Meng Penpeng to build and repair a complete Great Wall in addition to the Great Wall of the warring states of Yan, Zhao and Qin. This was the first large-scale construction of the Great Wall in Chinese history. More than ten years later, a line from Minxian (Lintao) in western Gansu Province

The Great Wall of Qin stretched across the northern border of the empire from the east to the Korean Peninsula (Liaodong).

As the total length of the Great Wall of Qin exceeded 10,000 miles, it was called the "Great Wall of Ten Thousand Miles".

In the late Han Dynasty, Emperor Wu set his sights on the western region. In order to prevent the Xiongnu from invading to the south, Emperor Wu built the Great Wall on a large scale in the west. The Great Wall of the Han used the same technique as the Great Wall of Qin, in which grass and trees were added to the rammed earth. This method was simple and efficient.

For many years afterwards, the Great Wall of Han, which stretched from Quli in the west to Liaodong in the east, ran along the northern border of the Han dynasty. In order to resist the fierce Xiongnu, the two parallel Great Walls were built north of Yinshan.

Since the Great Wall of Han spanned so far from east to west and the western part of the river was so sparsely populated, only Tiantian and beacon fires were built in many places. The beacon was also called the fire beacon.

In order to control the sight distance reasonably, the beacon was built according to the following rules.

The principle of "one mound at five miles, one mound at ten miles". Once war broke out, rows of beacons were placed inside and outside the Great Wall to transmit enemy information to the military strongholds at a speed faster than that of a horse.

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The Great Wall and the Silk Road

It was proved that the construction of the Great Wall in the west of the Han Dynasty provided a safe guarantee for the prosperity of the Silk Road.

In the Tang Dynasty, in order to protect the security along the Silk Road, the Tang Dynasty built a large number of beacons in the northern and southern Tianshan Mountains. This frontier policy seemed to be effective in the early stages, but it led to the end of the Tang dynasty, when fiefdoms and towns were divided and the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms were in chaos.

Since then the Great Wall has been used as a defensive measure by the various Chinese dynasties, and even by some of the minority regimes that came to dominate the country, the Great Wall was used by the Han Chinese to defend themselves against the nomads further north. The Jin Dynasty, founded by the Jurchen people, built the Great Wall in the heart of the steppe. Unlike the Great Wall of the previous dynasty, the Jin dynasty built a horse face on the wall of the Great Wall and a large number of forts on the inside of the Great Wall, raising the defense of the Great Wall to a three-dimensional model, improved the Wall's defense in depth.

None of these were built on the same scale as the Qin and Han dynasties. However, the exploration of defensive techniques by ethnic minorities provided valuable experience for the construction of the Great Wall of Ming. The Great Wall will set another record. It will be an unprecedented superstructure.

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The Building of The Ming Great Wall

In 1368, the Yuan Dynasty, which had ruled China for nearly a hundred years, was pushed back by the Ming Dynasty to the north of the Great Wall. To prevent the return of the Mongols, the Ming dynasty began a campaign of warfare throughout the entire dynasty.

Great Wall Upgrade

The Ming dynasty built the Great Wall three times, borrowing from the Great Wall building techniques of the previous dynasty. The last one was the most massive. The last of these was the most massive. The construction teams, consisting of Tan Lun and Qi Jiguang, upgraded the overall defensive capabilities of the Great Wall. The hollow enemy platform built by Qi Jiguang is a classic example of the Great Wall.

The Ming dynasty began to use masonry on a large scale to build city walls. The brick-clad walls made the walls stronger and more durable. On top of the walls, the walls were equipped with gun ports, battlements, battlements, and attacking holes. In order to increase the defensive strength of the walls, the Ming dynasty even equipped them with a powerful gun of Portuguese origin - the Furlong machine. A large number of checkpoints were set up on the main roads of the Great Wall. In times of war, they served as a military stronghold on the frontiers, blocking and restricting the flow of traffic. In times of peace, they facilitated the trade and communication in the border areas.

In addition, the Ming dynasty set up a series of military jurisdictions along the Great Wall, known as the Nine Borders. Most of these military towns were the settlements formed by the people who had settled along the Great Wall in the past. These settlements formed another major element of the Great Wall's defense system - the castle.

The installation of the castle, is equivalent to the stationing of a standing army in the border area. In this way, the cost of mobilizing troops from the hinterland of China during the war was considerably reduced. Therefore, the fortress had to be better defended against any crisis. The more important castles had a moat around the walls and a drawbridge over the moat. Normally the drawbridge was used to cross the moat, but in wartime, when it was slowly raised, the moat became an insurmountable danger for the steppe horsemen.

Within the city walls, there were bridle paths and footpaths to facilitate the rapid movement of troops to the city walls in times of war. The larger walls allowed wagons to be driven directly to the walls via the boarding roads. The walls were often flanked on all sides by tall gates. Above the gates, towers or arrow towers were built for shooting downwards. The more important gates would have a second gate with a space between the two gates, called an urn. When the enemy entered the first gate, the urn would be like a "turtle in a jar", trapping the enemy and inflicting a mortal wound that could not be underestimated.

During the 270 years of the Ming Dynasty, the construction of the Great Wall was almost uninterrupted. There were more than 20 recorded large-scale constructions, and with the addition of natural hazards along the way, the total length of the Great Wall was more than 8,800 kilometers.

At this point, a large-scale comprehensive defense system consisting of border walls, beacons, enemy platforms, passes and castles linked the defenses of the imperial borders into a whole. It was like a giant dragon lying in the lofty mountains of northern China.

The Great Wall built in the Ming Dynasty was the longest, the largest and most functional, the most beautiful in appearance, the strongest in structure and the richest in variety among all the Great Walls built in the past. The military defense system of the Great Wall is a classic.

Hike the Great Wall of China

Great Wall Adventure Club, founded in 2003 has been offering the authentic experience of seeing the Great Wall by hiking from the oceanside to the desert.

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