History of The Great Wall of China Page 2 Extent of The Great Wall

Scholars estimate that the Great Wall with all its branches once stretched for 6,200 miles, from the Yalu River in the northeast to Xinjiang in the northwest. Today it measures 6,000 miles. The Great Wall has suffered serious damage from wind and water erosion, as well as man-made destruction. In the past it has been a treasure store of stone for many a poor farmer. Between 1870 and 1974, the 8th Route Army stationed at Gubeikou destroyed 9,840 feet of the wall to use the stone to erect some barracks. Later in 1979, the State ordered the same army group to tear down their barracks and rebuild the wall.

Secrets of the Great Wall

In 226 the armies of the Chu Dynasty and the Qin dynasty met in a great final battle. The victor would get the prize of the richest and most technologically advanced nation of the world. The Qin Emperor needed to defend the country from the marauding bands of nomadic horsemen of the north. These bands of horsemen who raided the rich farmland came from the barren land of the north and were forced to become marauding nomads. It was a clash of farmers against warriors. The group would be difficult to defeat. The strength, stability and prosperity of the new empire were threatened by these marauding hordes. To preserve China's borders the Qin set about building a huge defensive barrier in 221 BC. Wall building became the chief defensive strategy to repel the enemy from the north. This was in the age before gunpowder and cannons. The first Great Wall was a massive undertaking. It was the equivalent of building 30 of the great pyramids of Egypt. To build this great wall of 3,000 miles the Qin Emperor chose his most able general Ling Qia. He was given an army of over 300,000 men

They had to build roads, and the infrastructure as well as the wall. Much of the wall was built of beaten clay. Stone was not always available, so tamped earth became the first choice. Soil was selected from at least four inches below the surface so seeds and grasses could not germinate and thus undermine the strength of the wall. Using first a form made of wood, earth was piled and was pounded into a layer of four inches thick. Successive layers of this would produce a wall twenty feet high that would still be standing some 2,000 years later. The wall stretched from the borders of North Korea across the northern border to the far reaches in western China. In ten years they built a wall across the entire northern border of China in lands that included marshes, quicksand, deserts, and altitudes of 8,000 feet. They built twenty-five miles a month that is almost a mile a day. One section is across 60 miles of a mountain range. This section was built entirely of native stone with the flat face placed on the outside to face the enemy. This dry stonewall was built 20 feet high with 26-foot high beacon towers.