china edition


Great Wall of China - Characteristics

Great Wall - History - Notable Areas

Before the wall was built by using bricks, it was created by earth, stones and wood. Due to the difficulty in transporting the large quantity of materials required for construction, builders always tried to use local resources. Over the mountain ranges, the stones of the mountain were exploited and used; while in the plains, earth was rammed into solid blocks to be used in construction.

Before and during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), because the earth buildings could withstand the strength of small arms such as swords and spears and there was low technology of productivity, the Great Wall was primarily built by stamping earth between board frames. Consequently, only walls of just earth or earth with gravel inside were built. No fortresses were constructed along the wall, and no bricks were used in the gates at the wall's passes. Much of these sections have erroded away by now. During the time following the Han Dynasty (202-220 AD), earth and crude stones remained common building tools.

Bricks were heavily used in many areas of the wall during the Ming Dynasty, as well as materials such as tiles, lime, and stone. Bricks were easier to work with than earth and stone as their small size and light weight made them convenient to carry and augmented construction speed. Additionally, they could bear more weight and retain their integrity than rammed earth. Stone, though more difficult to use, can better hold well under its own weight than brick. Consequently, stones cut in rectangular shapes were used for the foundation, inner and outer brims, and gateways of the wall.

The steps that form the Great Wall of China are very steep and tall in some areas of the wall. Tourists often become exhausted climbing the wall, and traverse no more than a mile because of this reason. Along the wall on either side, are 'holes' where the builders of the Great Wall didn't place any bricks. They are a little over a foot tall, and about 9 inches in width. These holes were used to shoot arrows out of when being attacked.