Timeline of Great Wall of China

Interested in the timeline of the Great Wall of China? Find out about the important stages of the construction of the Great Wall in our historical information guide…

The Great Wall of China takes its rightful place amongst the manmade wonders of the world. The gigantic structure stretches for a total of 4163 miles from the east to the west of China.

This World Heritage Site has a history dating back over two thousand years. Today the Great Wall is a major tourist attraction for China and faces constant threats from the effects of weathering.

First Period

The initial period of the building of the wall can be outlined from the fifth century BC to 221 BC. It was during this time period known as the era of the Warring States that seven ducal states of China initiated a project of setting up defensive walls around their territory. This was a means of fortifying the states from surrounding threats. At this time however the walls were independent of each other having no link joining them with each other.

Second Period

The actual conceptualization of building the Great Wall took place post 221 BC. It was during the rule of Emperor Qin that the decision to connect the different parts of the wall was taken. This was done for the purpose of strengthening the existing fortification in order to safeguard unified China.

The emperor assigned this daunting task to General Meng Tian and a team of three thousand soldiers. They were to join the existing parts of the wall together and make further extensions as well. The wall that came into being through the emperor’s initiated project spanned from Liaoning Province to Lintao. Thus the origins of the wall that were erected back in 700 BC were connected by the order to the emperor.

The wall served as a defense project and the emperor had his men stationed on strategic positions on the wall. The army would defend China from the constant attacks launched by the nomadic Hsiung Nu tribes from north China. The height of the wall placed the army sentries at a vantage point from where they could see the enemy forces from a distance and thus take counteraction.

Third period

The final and most valuable modifications were made during the Ming Dynasty from 1388 to 1644. During this stage the emperor initiated a move to transform the simple walls into a complex defense system.

A number of additions were made to the Great Wall during this time period. A few extensions totaled the length of the wall to a staggering four thousand miles. The emperor also added watchtowers, garrison towers, beacon towers, blockhouses, cannons and passages at strategic locations throughout the length of the wall.

In the coming years the Han dynasty, Sui and Jin dynasties all contributed to the construction and restoration of the wall. The threat of invasions from the north was persistent up until 1644 after which it started to eventually die down.

Although restoration and recreation work is still underway on the Great Wall this cannot be counted amongst the development stages as today it serves as a tourist attraction and is void of any military utility.

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