The Great Wall of China

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Out of all the defensive structures conceived over the ages, none have stood the test of time like the wall. It is easily one of the oldest, if not the oldest type of fortification built by man and is still in use today. As use of gunpowder weapons increased, the effectiveness of a massive, stone wall began to steadily decline. However, during the middle ages, people all over the world utilized walls as a highly effective way of keeping your enemy right where you wanted him, on the outside of one's castle, city, or empire. If asked to give an example of the longest and biggest wall ever built, none could argue against The Great Wall of China being the champion of walls. But is size really the only indicator of a wall's effectiveness, or is it possible that China's Great Wall was really not so great at all?

To give an idea of just how long the Great Wall is, if all its bricks were taken apart and laid in a ring around the equator, it would create a wall 5 feet high and 3 feet wide stretching all the way around the globe. While actual estimates vary depending on how the measurements are done, the Great Wall is said to be anywhere from 2,400 km (about 1,500 mi) long to 6,400 km (4,000 mi), or longer. The average size of the wall is 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) wide at the base sloping to 5.8 meters (19 feet) wide at the top and an average height of 8 meters (26 feet). Even though this colossal structure is referred to as simply, "The Great Wall", it is actually a network of wall joined together. The Great Wall first began to take its shape during the warring states period when states of Qi, Yen, and Zhao all build earthen ramparts along their frontiers. The next step in the creation of the wall came in the Qin dynasty when many parts of the earlier walls were unified in an attempt to keep the nomadic tribes of the north out of China. The Great Wall as we see it today was mostly constructed during the Ming dynasty, when again, northern nomadic tribes forced the...
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