the great wall of china

The Great Wall
The Great Wall is a set of Chinese military fortifications built, destroyed and rebuilt several times and several locations between the third century BC. BC and the seventeenth century to mark and defend the northern border of China. This is the most important architectural structure ever built by man both in length, surface and mass.

Popularly, it refers to as the "Great Wall" Part built during the Ming Dynasty who share Shanhaiguan on the territory of the city of Qinhuangdao in Hebei Province in the east to get to Jiayuguan in Gansu province in west. The length of the wall varies according to sources. According to a 1990 report, the total length of the walls would be 6700 km. Due to its length, the Great Wall in Chinese is called "The long wall of ten thousand lie", the li is an old Chinese unit of length and ten thousand Chinese symbolizing infinity. This nickname, however, can be taken in its literal sense as an approximation, which 6 700 km 11 632 li in value generally considered of 576 m or 13 400 li in the present value of exactly 500 m. On average, the Great Wall is 6 to 7 m in height and 4-5 m wide. In April 2009, the service that is the Chinese State Administration of Cultural Heritage, who used the latest measurement technologies, said revising the measure and a length of 851.8 km including 6 8 259 6 km of walls, trenches and 359.7 km 232.5 km 2 of natural barriers such as mountains or rivers.

Since 1987, the Great Wall of China is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO under the number 438.

If the term "Great Wall" now refers mainly fortifications built during the Ming Dynasty, many walls built during previous dynasties have carried this title, the borders of China evolves over time.

Traditionally, we divide the history of building the Great Wall in two parts:

* one before the unification of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC.) during the period of Spring and Autumn and Warring States period, when the various states and kingdoms that divided China erect earthen walls at their borders;
* one starting at the unification of the Qin Dynasty, Emperor Shi Huangdi which begins building a great wall of "ten thousand miles in length" at the northern border.

Period before Qin Dynasty
The Chinese people build walls from their earliest dynasties: the wall of Erliguan, built near the present city of Zhengzhou in early Shang Dynasty (eighteenth to twelfth century BC.) Is almost 7 km circumference and still stands today, in some places over 10 m high.

In the eighth century BC. BC, beginning the period known as the Spring and Autumn Period, China follows a feudal territory is divided into hundreds of fiefdoms run by states or princes, in theory all together under the auspices of the Kings of the Zhou Dynasty. The oldest literary reference relates to a wall built in 656 BC. BC by the State of Qi.

But over time, these states went on to annex one another to form larger principalities and sixth centuries BC. AD some principalities in the south secede, or as Chu Wu China was quickly broken up into several independent kingdoms waging war and failing to recognize the ruling dynasty little more than symbolic power: c ' is the beginning of the Warring States period.

About this time, various states then begin the construction of walls to protect themselves from their neighbors, or non-Chinese tribes. Thus, around the fifth century BC. AD, the State of Qi began building a wall, parts of which still hold up. In mid-fourth century BC. AD, the State of Wei in turn began building a wall on its western border near that of Qi, then a second wall on its eastern border. It was imitated by the states of Yan and Zhao. Non-Chinese people also build walls, as Yiju to protect themselves from Qin.

Commonly, the technique used to draw was that the walls of packed earth: between two plates, layers of earth a few centimeters are packed one above the other. The boards are then removed, leaving a mud wall. This method enabled to quickly establish solid walls can easily withstand several centuries.

Qin Dynasty
In 221 BC. BC, the warlord Ying Zheng completes the unification of China and founded the Qin dynasty which he proclaimed himself emperor under the name of the reign of Shi Huangdi. He then undertook massive reforms. Following the attacks of the Xiongnu tribes in the north, he sent General Meng Tian to ensure that it pushes the Xiongnu, and then undertake the construction of a large wall beyond the Yellow River to more effectively protect the newly conquered territories.

However, the details of the construction of this wall are poorly understood and the opinions of historians differ as to what was actually done by Shi Huangdi and Meng Tian. There is in any one primary source describing its construction (mainly two parts of the Shiji) and a few short references in historical texts later as the Book of Han.

"After the Qin Dynasty had unified the Empire, General Meng Tian was sent north with 300,000 men to repel the barbarian tribes. He conquered the Henan and built a Great Wall using topographical advantages. He built fortresses in the parades. The wall started from Lintao Liaodong to reach over ten thousand li. She crossed the Yellow River to arrive at Yangshan. "

- Sima Qian, Shiji, Chapter 88: Meng Tian.

"After the Qin had conquered the six kingdoms, the Emperor sent General Meng Tian with 100,000 men north to attack the barbarians. He captured the Henan and built defenses around the Yellow River. He built fortified cities forty-four to monitor the river and soldiers were being stationed at the border. He used the mountains, cliffs, streams and valleys. The wall started from Lintao Liaodong to reach over ten thousand li and crossed the Yellow River between Yangshan and Beijia. "

- Sima Qian, Shiji, Chapter 110: The Xiongnu.

Apart from these two texts, there are no other stories about the wall built by Meng Tian. Nobody knows neither when it was built, nor its exact location. This lack of information, and the fact that Sima Qian did not give more details in his Shiji despite the apparent magnitude of the work has surprised many historians, and where archaeological research has unearthed portions of the wall, they provide little additional information. However, although no historical source is not confirmed, it is commonly accepted that Meng Tian is not started from scratch to begin construction of the wall and was probably connected and restored portions of the walls of the ancient Warring States.

But despite the debate between historians and the absence of historical accounts, the Great Wall built by the Qin dynasty remains in the Chinese popular imagination a colossal work, the result of forced labor of thousands of convicts, soldiers, workers and peasants, including vision reinforced by the reputation of the emperor Shi Huangdi who left the image of a cruel monarch. It is this time that the nickname "wall of ten thousand li"(ie 5760 km is given the value of li at the time of the Qin Dynasty). It is also since that time that we speak truly "Great Wall".

Han Dynasty
In 210 BC. AD, Emperor Shi Huangdi and the Qin dynasty dies he founded survives only a few years. In 202 BC. BC, Liu Bang, a former soldier to peasant origins becomes master of China and proclaimed himself emperor under the name Temple Gaozu. Weakened by its previous war of succession against Xiang Yu, Gaozu abandon maintenance of the Great Wall of Qin, and when the Xiongnu, now united into a confederation, appear threatening and cross the border, rather than adopt an offensive position by the use of walls as did Shi Huangdi, Gaozu tries to buy peace with the tribes and "harmonious union" or heqin, that is to say, the supply of Chinese princesses to shanyu Xiongnu . For several decades, his successor will do likewise. However, the Great Wall is not completely abandoned: under Emperor Wendi (180-157 BC.) A minister recommends the creation of tuntian border (sort of agrarian settlements military) protected by small walls in order to colonize the region and impede the incursions of the Xiongnu.

It is mainly during the reign of Emperor Wudi, along with more than fifty years, the construction of the Great Wall is a boom. In 134 BC. AD status quo between the Chinese and the Xiongnu was broken after the fiasco of Mayi. Unlike his ancestors, Wudi decided to take an attitude frankly offensive against the Xiongnu in 129 BC and launches. AD first shipment, followed by many others. Wudi did restore and connect portions of the wall of the Qin Dynasty and then extends to as far as he campaigns across what became the Silk Road. In 119 BC. BC, the Xiongnu were driven back across the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia, and a new section of the wall, long, nearly 400 km was built there and it still stands today.

As for the wall of the Qin Dynasty, the raw material depends on the availability of land while the layout and location of watchtowers, garrison and passages are selected based on the strategic advantages offered by the natural shape of the regions. The section built in the Gobi desert is particularly notable for the use of stones found in local sand: sieving the sand, gravel workers get. The walls were then built by alternating layers of compacted gravel and grass, and then were covered with clay to be both protected from erosion and difficult to climb.

Forts were built beside the walls, or even directly integrated into walls, and a system of smoke signals can prevent an attack Xiongnu. To ensure the rapid arrival of reinforcements, the army made use of mainly light cavalry. Great Wall also passes through the important trade routes, allowing the control of imports. Of about twenty years, Wudi has extended the Great Wall of nearly a thousand kilometers. Around 90 BC. BC, the Xiongnu attacks are becoming increasingly rare, and for about half a century and the construction of the wall is seen slowing.

In 9 AD, the Han dynasty is eclipsed by the short-lived Xin Dynasty before being restored in 23 by Emperor Geng Shida. It is facing civil wars, and when the Emperor Guang Wudi ascended the throne two years later, his army is too weak to effectively contain the Xiongnu. He ordered the construction of four new walls to slow their advance and protect the capital. Finally, around 48, the Xiongnu experiencing internal strife and divide into two groups: the Xiongnu Xiongnu Northern and Southern. The southern Xiongnu are a buffer between their northern counterparts and China, they show relatively willing to co-exist with them, putting a hiatus in building new walls.

Towards the end of the Han dynasty, the empire faces numerous rebellions and civil wars, including the Yellow Turban Rebellion (184-205). Even if the warlords of the north as Yuan Shao or Cao Cao must occasionally deal with the rebellions of the Xiongnu, the state of the empire force to focus more on fighting. Cao Cao nevertheless managed to rally the southern Xiongnu handedly dividing them into five groups pitted against each other and therefore less likely to rebel against him, thereby greatly reducing the usefulness of the Great Wall. At the end of the Han Dynasty, China was divided into three kingdoms separated by borders and by continual war, making the construction and maintenance of large walls irrelevant. It was not until the end of the Northern Wei Dynasty, around the sixth century, appears the plan to build another Great Wall. However this project will never be implemented, and all the rival kingdoms of the time, only Qi builds walls.

See also Qingming Festival


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