Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Great Wall of China - Blogging Through the Alphabet

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The Great Wall of China is a UNESCO World Heritage Site - a series of fortifications many thousands of miles long, built over a period of 2000 years. It is not just one wall, but many sections of fortifications and walls winding through the hills of northern China.

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Separate walls were built by some of early China's people groups before China was unified under the Qin Dynasty which was in power from 221BC to 206BC. The new emperor planned to connect the existing walls as a defense against northern invaders. A million soldiers and builders worked on the project. Between 206BC and 24AD. the Han dynasty extended the wall; and over the next 500 years another 1600 miles of wall was built, and existing walls were renovated. The Ming dynasty came into power in 1368, and they continued repairing and building the walls, watchtowers, and forts, in an effort to protect China from Mongol invasion. Some walls were constructed over existing sections of wall, and newer sections of wall were built with more sturdy brick and stone foundations. The Great Wall that remains today is the 4500 miles or so built and fortified by the Ming dynasty, although some of it is in ruins now as well.

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Each section of the wall was built from materials available in the local region. Stone in some areas, dirt with rammed earth walls in others. 

The watchtowers along the Great Wall are part of a communication relay system. Some are large enough to house soldiers and feature typical fortress elements such as crenellations or battlements (the squared openings at the top of the wall, through which soldiers could fire their weapons), loopholes (holes in the wall that allowed viewing and shooting, with more protection than the crenellations), and parapets (sort of like a guardrail). The barrier walls allowed soldiers to fight even on steep hillsides.

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Today the Great Wall is a huge tourist attraction, especially the sections near Beijing and the Badaling Great Wall near the city of Zhangjakou. In other areas, the wall is in a state of disrepair, or lost to erosion, vandalism, and even to progress, as sections were cleared to make way for new construction.

The Great Wall of China is very long and very impressive, but it cannot, in fact, be seen from the moon, or even from low-earth orbit.

For more about the Great Wall of China, check out the high school elective course  Introduction to Architecture at

Introduction to Architecture on

This post is linked at Blogging Through the Alphabet hosted by A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool. Join in to see what others are sharing related to this week's letter!

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Annette said...

Did you know that some sections of the wall.. they used sticky rice in the mortar to hold the bricks together? made the wall more elastic so it held together better. :)

ReneeK said...

We did a unit study on the Great Wall of China a while back and it was so interesting. My kids still remember a lot about it. Thanks for sharing.

zekesmom10 said...

My middle little is pretty intrigued the TGWoC. It will be fun for him to read your post. :)

Amanda H said...

What a great bit of information! Thank you so much for sharing this and I may have to go take this course just for me! :-)

Mia White said...

So rad. We visited the Great Wall when we were in China to adopt our son almost exactly three years ago. :) Here's the link to my blog post with pics:

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