Great Wall of China
The wall that covers the northern border of China is known as The Great Wall of China. It stretches almost 5,500 miles long, and was built to keep out the Mongols from China. The wall has over 7,000 lookout towers, and the height varies from place to place, averaging around 33 feet tall. It is the longest and largest by manmade structure in the world. Moats were made around the wall to help keep people out, and currently it is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
There have been many different names given to the Great Wall of China. One of the earliest was changcheng, a term which means 'long wall(s)', which appeared in Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian. People would develop their own name for it, like Wanli Changcheng, which means the Ten-Thousand-Mile Long Wall.
However, Chinese miles were not the same as English miles, and they were usually around a third of one, though it varied due to miles being terms used to describe the size of a village. It would evolve several other times, including names like 'The Purple Frontier' or 'the Earth Dragon', and eventually in the 19th century it would become known as The Great Wall.
The Great Wall of China was not built by a single person, but spanned over many empires. Originally, there were several smaller walls built as far back as 7th century BC, and they were slowly merged together, being made bigger and stronger. The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, would build the most famous wall, demanding it to be made taller and stronger. There is little left of this wall, and most of the wall that exists is owed to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
The construction began after King Zheng of Qin conquered all of China from being several embattled states. He would be the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. Because there already were walls in China, he ordered the destruction of the walls that divided his country, and instead focused on the construction of walls to the north to keep out enemies.
It was difficult to transport resources, so builders would try to use local materials, such as stones from mountains were used to build a wall over the mountain ranges. The cost of life for this is estimated from 100,00-1,000,000 workers, and this wall was later expanded, repaired, and enhanced by more dynasties, such as the Sui, Northern, and Han.
After the Han Dynasty, the Tang and Song did not focus on the wall, and as such they soon fell to disarray. The Liao, Jin, and Yuan dynasties (10th-13th Century AD) would create walls, but they were far to the north of where the Qin wall was. It wouldn't be until the Ming Dynasty in 14th Century AD that the wall would be revived, and it would be stronger than before due to the use of stone and brick as opposed to rammed earth. The sections near the Ming Capital, Beijing, were notably stronger than the rest of the wall.
The wall continued to be repaired throughout the following years. Qi Jiguang notably repaired and reinforced the wall, and constructed 1200 more watchtowers to help warn of incoming raids from Mongols. Manchu, a people located in what is now China, and upset with the Ming Empire, invasions around 1600 were delayed by the Great Wall, notably being held at the Shanhai Pass, which was a heavily fortified section protecting the Chinese Heartland. Eventually, they would be let through the Shanhai Pass with the request from the Ming Empire to help squash a rebellion, which they did and then killed the rest of the Ming resistance, starting the Qing dynasty.
During the Qing dynasty, the boarders of China expanded greatly, with the takeover of Mongolia. The Great Wall would cease to be constructed, as it was no longer needed. The purpose of it would shift from defense to immigration control, and the Qing dynasty planted the Willow Palisade, which were willows planted to help further immigration control. The Great Wall of China still stands today, with much of it falling apart even with restoration efforts, as local villages continue to steal stones and bricks from it. It is, however, one of the most iconic pieces of human architecture, and will be for the foreseeable future.
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