The Great Wall of China
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, The Great Wall of China is mankind’s longest structure ever built. It was built over hundreds of years spanning several dynasties. It can even be seen on radar images from space. There were actually 19 walls that were built, but many of them are no longer in existence. The original wall was built by the Qin Dynasty, with other dynasties continuing to work on it throughout history. Eventually, the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE) rebuilt the wall, expanding its length giving us The Great Wall of China that we know today.
Shi Huangdi, emperor of the Qi Dynasty, ordered the wall to be built to provide a barrier between the Chinese and the northern invaders such as the Mongol, Turkic, and Xiongnu, from modern-day Mongolia and Manchuria. It also provided strategic placement for watchtowers, beacons for signaling, and shelter for soldiers. The wall, coupled with the large amount of manpower that guarded it, made Chinese society safe against outside invaders.
The section built by the Ming Dynasty is 3,915 miles long, making the Great Wall of China approximately 13,171 miles in length. Some sections of the wall measure up to 30 feet wide and 26 feet high. The Great Wall was built using a variety of materials that were available at the time. At first, the wall was built using compacted dirt, straw, and stone. Later, the Ming Dynasty would use materials such as stone, brick, wood, and tamped earth. The Great Wall extends through varying terrains and even along high mountains. The wall was built using the labor of peasants and prisoners as a form of punishment by the emperor. Building the wall was exceedingly difficult and dangerous. Workers faced the threat of falling stones, exhaustion, disease, extreme weather conditions, animal attacks and starvation.