teradesa.com The history of the Great Wall of China can be traced back to its construction in the 700s BC. The construction of this giant wall was then continued by a number of emperors from various dynasties ruling mainland China until 2000 years (2 millennia) later.
The Great Wall of China is a series of giant walls that extend to follow the shape of the North China mountain range that stretches from east to west. In Mandarin, the Great Wall of China is commonly referred to as “wanli changcheng” which means “wall with a length of 10 thousand li.”
Citing the article “The Great Wall of China: a Physical Barrier to Gene Flow?” in the Heredity Journal (2003) released by nature.com, the earliest record of the construction of the Great Wall of China dates back to 656 BC. During the ancient Chinese period, the great wall began to be built with a defensive purpose: to stem the invasion of nomadic tribes from northern China.
Renovations and additions to the length of the Great Wall of China were then continued by many emperors from various dynasties. The last large-scale renovation was carried out during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and became a giant infrastructure project of the empire.
However, the data on when the Great Wall of China was built and its length has been updated, based on recent research. The latest data reported in 2021 by China’s state news agency, Xinhua, shows the construction of the Great Wall of China dates from the period 770-221 BC to the reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
Meanwhile, the results of the latest measurements carried out by the Chinese government concluded that the total length of the Great Wall of China reached 21,000 kilometers. The exact figure, the length of the Great Wall of China is 21,196.18 kilometers. The data is different from the results of an initial study in 2009 which estimated the length of the Great Wall of China at only 8,850 km.
The giant series of fortifications stretches from the coast of Bohai Bay (Shanhaiguan) in the east to the Gobi Desert (Jiayuguan) in the West. The location of the Great Wall of China is in the territory of 15 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in North China.
The regions where the Great Wall is located are Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin, Liaoning, Jilin, Henan, Heilongjiang, and Shandong.
One of the wonders of the world designated by Unesco in 1987 is a world heritage site that continues to be maintained and conserved. Xinhua noted, in 2021, there were 6,000 officers deployed to guard the Great Wall of China.
A Brief History of the Great Wall of China: The Construction Period
The Great Wall of China is actually a series of fortresses that come together to become the longest man-made structure in the world. The construction of this giant wall not only took 2000 years but also victimized at least 1 million people in the past.
This fact is proven by the discovery of many human skeletal remains in this building by archaeologists. In addition, there is a myth about the local belief that many spirits are trapped in the Great Wall of China.
In its official publication, UNESCO stated that the construction of the Great Wall of China illustrates the harsh clash of civilizations of nomadic communities with agricultural societies in ancient China.
The Great Wall of China is also physical evidence of the application of ancient Chinese military strategy combined with advances in art and architectural technology of that era. UNESCO considers the Great Wall of China to contain unparalleled symbolic meaning in Chinese history.
“Because its construction implies suffering, it has become an important reference in Chinese literature, such as in the “Soldier’s Ballad” of Tch’en Lin (200 AD) or the poetry of Tu Fu (712-770), and popular novels in the Ming period,” UNESCO wrote.
The construction of the Great Wall of China, which took 2000 years, occurred in stages and was closely related to the military defense strategies of a number of imperial dynasties in China. Quoted from Britannica, here are a number of stages of the historical period of the construction of the Great Wall of China.
1. Pre-Qin Period
At first the Great Wall of China was built to limit urban areas with the aim of defense from enemy attacks. At that time, China was still divided into several countries, namely Chu, Qi, Yan, Wei, and Zhao.
Based on historical research, these states contributed to the initial construction of the Great Wall of China, namely in the Spring and Autumn Period (722 BC – 481 BC) and the Warring States Period (453 BC-221 BC).
The state of Chu started building the northern wall in the 7th century BC, followed by other states such as Qi, Yan, Wei and Zhou.
The state of Qi built the perimeter wall in stages starting from the south to the shores of the Yellow Sea. The Wei state built two lines of defense known as the Hexi Wall (West of the River) and the Henan Wall (South of the River).
The Hexi Wall was built as a fortification against Qin and western nomads, while the Henan Wall was erected to protect Daliang, then the capital of Wei.
The Zhou state completed the southern wall and northern wall as defenses against the Wei state.
2. Qin Dynasty Period
In 220 BC, the Qin Dynasty, led by Emperor Qin Shi Huang, ordered to connect the walls and fortifications that had been built earlier as a defense line.
Emperor Qin Shi Huang sent a general named Meng Tian to the northern border with 300,000 men to work on the project. The project took about 9 years to complete. Due to heavy casualties and the Qin Dynasty being overthrown, the construction was not continued.
3. Han Dynasty Period
In 127 BC, Emperor Han Wudi of the Han Dynasty who was then in power renovated and continued the construction of the old walls which was carried out for approximately 20 years. It was during this era of the Han Dynasty that the overall length of the wall increased to 1000 kilometers.
Then, on the orders of Emperor Guang Wudi in 39 BC, General Ma Cheng restarted the construction of the great wall of China. After that, the Huns were divided into two parts, namely the north and the south.
The Northern and Southern Huns reconciled after being conquered by the Han Dynasty. Then the construction of the Great Wall of China was abandoned because the dynasty already had a large military force.
4. Ming Dynasty Period
After overthrowing the Mongol Empire (1206-1368), the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) continued the construction of the Great Wall of China. During the Ming Dynasty, the length of the Great Wall of China continued to grow by thousands of kilometers and was divided into 9 military districts equipped with a number of fortresses and gates to monitor the border areas.