Did You Know?
It is estimated that up to 1 million people died while constructing the Great Wall of China.
The Great Wall of China is a wall that covers much of the northern border of China. The length of the Great Wall built by the Ming Dynasty is around 5,500 miles long. If you take the length of all the portions of the wall built by every Chinese Dynasty, plus various branches, the total comes to 13,171 miles long! No wonder they call it the Great Wall.
The wall was built to help keep out northern invaders like the Mongols. Smaller walls had been built over the years, but the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, decided that he wanted a single giant wall to protect his northern borders. He ordered that a single strong wall be built with thousands of lookout towers where soldiers could guard and protect his empire.
The original Great Wall was started by the Qin Dynasty and following dynasties continued to work on it. Later the Ming Dynasty rebuilt the wall. Much of the Great Wall that we know today was built by the Ming Dynasty.
The wall was built by peasants, slaves, criminals, and other people that the emperor decided to punish. Soldiers were involved in building the wall and in managing the workers as well.
It is estimated that millions of people worked on the wall over the course of over 1000 years. Some scientists think that up to 1 million people died while building the wall. People building the wall were not treated very well. Many people were just buried under the wall when they died.
Generally the wall was built with whatever resources were available nearby. The earlier walls were built with compacted dirt surrounded by stone. Much of the later Ming wall was built with bricks.
The wall was really a fortification to protect the northern border. It was a wall, but also had watchtowers, beacon towers to send signals, and blockhouses to house soldiers. There were soldiers guarding the walls and towers. There were also towns built along the wall to garrison soldiers so they could quickly get to the wall in case of a large attack. It is estimated that over 1 million soldiers guarded the great wall during the height of the Ming Dynasty.