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Interesting Things to Know About The Great Wall of China

The ancient Chinese civilization’s creative thinking, tenacity, and ambition are perfectly demonstrated by the Great Wall of China, which is frequently cited as one of the most famous and stunning architectural wonders in history. 

This enormous structure, which spans thousands of kilometers along China’s northern frontiers, has captured the attention of the globe for ages. 

The Great Wall’s principal function was defense, guarding ancient China’s northern frontiers against incursions by nomadic tribes. It acted as a deterrent and gave a viewpoint for observing and addressing dangers. In order to facilitate quick long-distance communication using smoke and lantern signals, beacon towers were also thoughtfully positioned around the wall.

It is a cultural treasure whose magnificence and historical significance continue to enthrall the globe and is designated a UNESCO globe Heritage Site. It is also a tribute to ancient engineering and building.

Historical Background:

a) Early Beginnings

The Great Wall’s beginnings may be traced back more than 2,000 years to China’s Warring States Period in the 7th century BC. Individual nations built a number of lesser fortifications to fight against marauding nomadic tribes.

b) Dynasty of Qin

The first organized attempt to link and enlarge these scattered walls took place during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), when China was brought under one ruler. To stave off northern invaders, Emperor Qin Shi Huang started work on what is now known as the Great Wall.

Around 220 B.C., Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a united China under the Qin Dynasty, ordered the removal of earlier fortifications between states and the joining of several existing walls along the northern border into a single system that would extend for more than 10,000 li and defend China against attacks from the north.

The 10,000-Long Wall, also known as the “Wan Li Chang Cheng,” was one of the most enormous construction projects ever attempted by any civilisation. The project was allegedly first overseen by the renowned Chinese general Meng Tian, who used a sizable army of soldiers, prisoners, and commoners.

The wall, which was largely made of stone and earth, extended almost 3,000 kilometers to the west into the province of Gansu from the China Sea port of Shanhaiguan. The Badaling length, north of Beijing, which was later reconstructed under the Ming Dynasty, was one of the strategically important locations where parts of the wall overlapped for optimal protection.

The Great Wall had a base height of 15 to 50 feet, climbed 15 to 30 feet in height, was capped by ramparts 12 feet or higher, and was peppered with guard towers at regular intervals.

Construction of The Great Wall of China

1.  Materials

Depending on the location, different resources, including dirt, wood, stone, and bricks, were used to construct the Great Wall. It was even built in certain places using compacted dirt and tamped gravel.

Earth served as the main building material in many portions of the Great Wall, particularly in areas where stone and brick were more difficult to come by.

Simply compacting and layering the dirt, workers would build a strong, long-lasting edifice. To boost strength, tamped earth walls were fortified with reeds, straw, and additional natural elements.

To build the wall, large stone blocks were quarried and shaped. In order to ensure stability, the stones were frequently placed without mortar.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) and certain following periods, bricks were widely utilized. Clay was frequently used to make these bricks, which were evenly formed and burnt in kilns. Compared to stone and dirt, they offered a construction material that was more reliable and constant.

2. Labour

Soldiers, peasants, and prisoners were among the large work force used to build the wall. Its construction over the centuries is thought to have involved millions of people.

Soldiers made up a sizable portion of the workforce, particularly those from the border areas. As a requirement of their military duty, they were either recruited or forced to work on the wall.

Soldiers posted along the wall served as both builders and defenders.

Peasants, farmers, and rural workers who were forced or persuaded into service made up a sizable percentage of the labor force.

Forced labor on the Great Wall was frequently performed by criminals and prisoners of war.

Their labor was viewed as a type of penance, and they made donations as atonement for their transgressions.

Volunteers from the surrounding area or other neighboring areas occasionally voluntarily entered the workforce. This unpaid work was frequently driven by a feeling of patriotism or an expectation for payment.

3. Architecture

The wall is really a collection of walls, forts, and watchtowers rather than a single continuous construction. These buildings were constructed in a variety of architectural styles, which reflected the tastes and available resources of the many dynasties that built and maintained the wall.

Earth, stone, brick, and wood were among the materials used to build walls. The individual requirements and elevation affect the wall’s width and height, which also vary from section to section.

Watchtowers were thoughtfully positioned around the wall at regular intervals. From straightforward one-story buildings to multi-story defenses, these towers were built using a variety of architectural styles. Watchtowers frequently had windows and arrow holes to give guards a vantage point from which to see oncoming dangers and fire at intruders.

Along the Great Wall, passes and gates functioned as important access and departure points.

Juyongguan, Shanhaiguan, and Jiayuguan are some of the most well-known passes.

Gatehouses, drawbridges, and other defensive constructions were used to fortify and defend the gates and restrict access to the wall.

The Great Wall’s Objective

1. Defense

The Great Wall’s main function was to act as a defense line against the periodic incursions of nomadic tribes, especially the Xiongnu, Mongols, and other people from the north. It was essential in preserving China’s interior.

The Great Wall helped in defending the Chinese kingdoms and eventually the unified Chinese empire from the frequent assaults and incursions by several tribes.

The physical barrier of the wall served as a deterrent, making it more challenging for these tribes to conduct significant incursions into Chinese territory.

The Great Wall was placed strategically along China’s northern frontiers, frequently taking advantage of geographical obstacles like mountains and rivers.

Its design incorporated elements like watchtowers, battlements, and defensive walls to enable guards to keep an eye on potential attacks and take appropriate action.

2. Beacon Towers

In order to facilitate quick communication and the mobilization of troops in the event of an assault, a network of beacon towers was built along the wall to broadcast messages through smoke signals or lanterns.

In times of war, communication was incredibly important since it allowed for quick response and the coordination of defensive activities.

At crucial locations along the Great Wall, beacon towers were strategically positioned. In order to be as visible as possible, they were frequently placed on high ground or noticeable hilltops.

These positions guaranteed that the signals could be seen by nearby towers, starting a chain reaction for message transmission.

Historical Importance of The Great Wall of China

a) A Sign of Unity

The Great Wall of China is more than simply a physical construction; it is also a representation of China’s steadfast unity and the will of its citizens to defend their country. It has historically been a source of unity for the Chinese people.

b) Historical Culture

Recognizing the Great Wall’s historical and cultural importance, UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site in 1987. Each year, millions of visitors from all over the world come to China to see this vital component of their country’s rich cultural legacy.

Maintenance and Decline

a) Environmental Collapse

Over the years, the wall has seen natural erosion, vandalism, and brick theft for use in nearby buildings. These elements have caused certain areas to gradually deteriorate.

b) Restoration Initiatives

To preserve and safeguard the Great Wall, the Chinese government has launched massive repair initiatives in collaboration with foreign organizations. This entails restoring damaged regions, strengthening weak spots, and fostering ethical tourism.

Read more: The Rise of China in the Solar Industry: A Global Revolution 

The Present-Day Great Wall

a) The Tourism Industry

The Great Wall is a well-known tourist destination and has come to represent China. Visitors are welcome to tour the wall’s many parts, each of which offers distinct sensations and stunning views. The parts Badaling, Mutianyu, and Jinshanling are popular ones.

b) Historical Icon

The Great Wall has cultural relevance even today as a reminder of China’s past and its continuing might. It frequently appears in literature, art, and the media, which further strengthens its hold on the Chinese mind.

Facts and Myths about The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is a magnificent construction that is also full of intriguing information. Here are some astounding details regarding this well-known marvel:

1. Gigantic Length: 

The Great Wall is the world’s longest wall, spanning more than 13,000 miles (21,196 kilometers). This distance is about equal to the equator-centered half of the circumference of the Earth.

2. Extended Construction Time: 

The first development of the Great Wall began in the 7th century BC during the Warring States Period and continued through the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), spanning multiple dynasties and centuries.

3. There Are No Walls:

Contrary to common perception, there are several sections of the Great Wall. To secure China’s northern borders, a sophisticated network of fortresses, walls, and geographical impediments like mountains and rivers has been connected.

4. Space View: 

Despite a widespread misconception, the Great Wall cannot be seen with the unaided eye from low Earth orbit. Without binoculars or a telescope, astronauts have noted that it is challenging to make out objects from orbit.

5. Numerous Building Materials:

The Great Wall was constructed using a variety of materials depending on the area. Some areas were made of compacted dirt, wood, stone and bricks.

6. Millions Worked on its Construction: 

Between 400,000 and 1 million workers, including soldiers, peasants, and convicts, are said to have contributed to the Great Wall’s different stages of construction.

7. Deadly Working Conditions: 

It was dangerous labor to construct the Great Wall. Numerous workers had to deal with severe circumstances, such as exposure to harsh weather, hazardous terrain, and the possibility of assaults by nomadic tribes.

8. The Great Canal and the Great Wall

The Great Wall and the Grand Canal are two enormous works of engineering that are located in China. It’s interesting to note that the Grand Canal, built for transportation needs, is 1,100 miles longer than the Great Wall.

9. Several Sections

Visitors can tour several Great Wall portions, each of which offers a distinctive experience. While others are more untamed and less populated, some areas are well-preserved and easily accessible.

10. Solidarity Amongst Chinese

Beyond its protective function, the Great Wall has historically represented Chinese national togetherness and unity. To emphasize its importance, it is frequently referred to as the “Long Wall of Ten Thousand Li,” where “Li” is a Chinese measurement of length.

11. Language Influence

The Chinese language has been significantly influenced by the Great Wall. The phrase “Wanli Changcheng” (), which means “The Great Wall of Ten Thousand Li,” demonstrates its significance as a linguistic and cultural emblem.

12. Cultural Illustrations

The Great Wall has been depicted in various literature, movies, and pieces of art from China and other countries. It continues to be the source of artistic creations that glorify its majesty and historical significance.

Conclusion

The Great Wall of China is an amazing representation of the ancient Chinese people’s ingenuity and tenacity. Its construction, which spanned more than two millennia and many dynasties, serves as a constant reminder of China’s commitment to defending its borders and preserving its cultural legacy. 

It still captivates people’s imaginations today and serves as a reminder of China’s lengthy history and rich cultural heritage. Let’s not only see its magnificence, but also recognize the astounding engineering and historical importance that constitute this magnificent building.

FAQs

Who Truly Constructed China’s Great Wall?

Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a united China, started construction on the wall in 221 BCE. Earlier barriers between Chinese states were taken down under his direction.

How Was the Great Wall Constructed?

The Great Wall is a huge structure made of many materials. The majority of the parts that are visible now were constructed using cut stone blocks and bricks, with lime mortar used to keep the bricks together. 

Why is it Named the Great Wall?

Chinese adds an adjective, not “great” but “long,” because the Wall is obviously more than just a city wall. In other words, Long City is what the Chinese word “the Great Wall” (cháng chéng) denotes.

What Represents the Great Wall?

A potent emblem is the Great Wall. Because it was connected as China was first unified during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), it symbolizes the unity of China. It stands for the amazing capacity of the Chinese to cooperate for the benefit of the nation.

What was the Great Wall’s Nickname?

The wall earned the moniker “The Long Graveyard ” with an estimated two million of people passing away while working under the difficult conditions. The Ming dynasty constructed the majority of the wall that is still in place, adding watchtowers and forts to fortify its defense.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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