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The Great Wall of China: An Engineering Marvel

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The Great Wall of China has left an indelible impression on the whole world as it is considered to be a marvel in the engineering field. The fact that it was not built with the use of technology and it has sustained for so many years, makes one wonder as to how this could have been possible. The use of unskilled manual labour further makes us ponder. Though the Great Wall took a long time and it was not built at one stretch but by many rulers spanning over years, it is really an engineering marvel. The Wall was built to stop invasion of rulers from other lands, however in the present day, it is more of a tourist attraction. Many celebrities and heads of various countries have paid a visit. Is the Great Wall of China an engineering marvel? is the question which is answered in the paper with the help of the references “Evangelist, CAD” and “The Great Wall of Ming dynasty.”


The Great Wall of China was built by the first Emperor, Qin Shihuangdi who was said to be a dictator. The Wall was built to stop invaders and nomads of the surrounding areas from attacking the kingdom (Turnbull,2012, p.9). It has a length of 6000 kilometres and took roughly 2000 years to be built. Apart from protecting the country against invaders, it allowed trade to be carried on. New towns were built which ensured development of the economy and the Far North was now joined together with the rest of China. The construction began in 500 to 400 B.C. and was carried out under the different reign of twenty dynasties (Ganster, et.al,2005, p.11,14). The Ming Dynasty was responsible for further building of the Great Wall. New designs were incorporated into it and watch towers rebuilt with the addition of canons (Engineering.com,2006, n.pag). The Great Wall was a marvel of engineering as in that period there were no machines with the help of which they could construct it, hence only manual labour was used and huge stone, bricks etc. were transported on handcarts, horses, donkeys etc (China Travellers, n.d, n.pag).

History of the Wall:

The Emperor Qin ShiHuangdi, united China to form the Qin dynasty. The Xiongnu were a nomadic tribe who permeated China and to get protection, Emperor Qin wanted a wall to be built known as the Long Wall. The Great Wall was built in four stages -the State Walls were built by State Leaders in 615-221B.C, The Long Wall in 221-207 B.C. by the Qin dynasty, Han Wall in 206 B.C-AD 220 by the Han dynasty and Ming Wall in 1368-1644 by the Ming dynasty (Henzel,2011,p.8-100).The Great Wall begins from the sea port of Shanhaiguan and goes up to the Gansu province. After the Qin and Han dynasties, the Northern Wei dynasty restored the wall. The subsequent rulers did not contribute much and it was the Mongol dynasty led by Genghis Khan which conquered China and deputed soldiers to guard the wall so as to protect traders travelling on the Silk Road (Editors, History.com,2019, n.pag).

The Wall Under the Ming Dynasty:

The Ming dynasty rebuilt the Great Wall between the years 1368- 1644.It is located in North China and its purpose was to protect China from invasion by the Mongolians and the Manchurians. The Wall was constructed with soil and lime in some areas and in other places reeds, willow and small pieces of stone were used. Manual labour was the only method which was used by the Ming dynasty to build the wall as there were no machines then. The labour consisted of soldiers, refugees and criminals. The construction was solid as the materials were of good quality and the security system was fool proof as the Wall had forts, watchtowers barracks stables etc. Flanking Towers at various points in the Wall at a distance of every 300 metres helped the soldiers to fire and shoot arrows on the attackers. They were as well used as shelters for protection against wind and rain. Beacon towers were as well built under the Ming dynasty to provide information about enemies. Wolf dung was used to light fires during the day as they showed up brightly

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