Why Was the Great Wall of China Built?
The Great Wall of China was built in the 7th Century B.C. to keep out the raiding Tartars of Mongolia who were a tribal group that would regularly conduct raids into China. Despite the wall, the Mongols eventually conquered China. The Wall also kept Chinese citizens from leaving China.
The Great Wall of China was not built all at one time. In 7th and 8th century BC, battles happened frequently among the states of the Spring-Autumn and Warring States dynasty and in order to defend themselves they began to built walls and towers on the borders. It was the state Chu who first built the wall. It was during the Qin Dynasty that the kingdom of Qin united the different parts into one empire. To defend off the invasions from northern invaders, Emperor Qin Shi Huang had all the walls joined up. Thus, the Great Wall came into being.
Since then, the Great Wall was rebuilt, modified or extended throughout Chinese history for over 2,000 years by millions of Chinese people drafted in for the task. The primary purpose was always to protect the Chinese Empire from the Mongolians and other invaders. Most of the current Great Wall we see today was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and is approximately 6000km long.
It is 20 to 30 feet high and 15 to 25 feet wide at the top, with towers 60 feet high every few hundred yards. Wall stretches from Shanhaikwan on Yellow Sea to the borders of Kansu and Sinkiang in the west, crossing high mountains and deep valleys. Probably over 500,000 workers were employed to build it. Even today, the wall is in a wonderful state of preservation.
This marvelous structure is constructed of bricks and stone. The sides have battlements-parapets with openings or embrasures through which weapons could be discharged.
All large cities of China were provided with similar walls, and the gates were closed at night to give the citizens protection against surprise attack. For China has been envied by her neighbors throughout history. Many times these neighbors have invaded the country, seized the capital and begun a new dynasty.
In over 2000 years ago, the Great Wall had been serving as an effective way for defense in China history. As a product of the clashes between agricultural and nomadic economies, the Great Wall provided protection to the economic development and cultural progress, safeguarded the trading routes such as the Silk Road, and secured transmission of information and transportation.
Actually, China is not the only country in history that built wall along its boundary. Athens, the Roman Empire, Denmark and Korea all did so at certain time in the past. The Hadrian’s Wall in northern England, built “to separate the Romans from the barbarians”, extended 117 kilometres from Wallsend-on-Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west. All the walls were built for the purpose of military defense, and the Great Wall of China was no exception.