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How was the Great Wall of China Built?

Bricks, tiles, stairs and watchtowers on the Great Wall witnessed the laboring of the ancient Chinese people on building this magnificent long wall. So, Have you wondered about how the Great Wall, with a total length of more than 20,000km, was built?

Where to build the Great Wall?

The geographical condition of the Great Wall varies. The Great Wall passes through mountains, rivers and valleys, desert grasslands, etc. Therefore, in building the Great Wall, the artisans and militarists, took the advantage of the natural terrain to build walls, with passes, beacons, smoke piers, and castles, in order to achieving the purpose of defense.

The precious experience of "using terrains to build the wall" was created by the laborers from practice. This principle has been applied in the construction of the Great Wall in every dynasty since then. For example, walls of Juyongguan and Badaling were built along the ridge, because the ridge itself is like a big wall, and then the great wall would be even more steep.

How to Manage the Construction?

The construction management of the Great Wall is a very hard. Because the Great Wall stretches for thousands of miles, the construction site is very long and the construction management becomes even more complicated. The method took at that time was to divide the wall by sections. For example, in the Han Dynasty, the Great Wall of Hexi County was built by the four counties who would guard it and they were supposed to be in charge of the construction of the Great Wall in their respective territory. Of course, in large projects, each county should mobilize their people to build the wall and the central government would also send troops and labor from other parts of the country to build in key areas with them. During the Ming Dynasty, a stone tablet on Badaling Great Wall recorded the construction of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty (1582 A.D.) was found. It can be seen on the stone tablets that the manpower to build the Great Wall at that time was mainly from the army. Each section of the project used thousands of people, including officers and troops, plus many peasants.

How to Carry the Bricks?

The construction of the Great Wall is very arduous. Along the old Great Wall, it was hard to imagine that there was no advanced construction machinery and transportation tools, either in the mountains and deep valleys or in the desert grasslands. At Juyongguan and Badaling, you can see some giant stones which are three meters long and weigh more than two thousand kilograms. As the Great wall was built on steep ridges, even the visitors felt very hard to go up, and you can imagine how hard it would be for the people who built the Great Wall carrying more than 2,000 kilograms' stone.

In order to carry large quantities of earthwork, lime, boulders and bricks atop the hill. The builders came up with many ideas.

Manpower handling: This method is the most primitive one. Workers carried a large number of bricks, lime and stones to the mountain foot. At that time, people also adopted the method of transmission. They lined up at the foot of the ridge top, then passed the bricks and small stones one by one.

Simple Machinery: Some tools were also used in building the walls, such as trolleys, rolling timber and crowbar to transport heavy stones up to the hill, and winches were placed on the hill to hang huge boulders up the ridge. When transporting bricks and lime across ditches and narrow valleys, the method of "flying baskets", a kind of primitive cableway is also adopted, thus it greatly relieved the laboring.

Animal Carrying: It is said that goats and donkeys were used to carry lime and bricks in the basket when building the Great Wall on the Badaling Mountains.

How to Build the Wall without Concrete?

So before the invention of cement, what did the Chinese use to build houses? Why can the Great Wall enduring thousands of years without using concrete? The magic material to hold the bricks is sticky rice.

In the 6th century AD, a kind of construction material called sticky rice mortar was invented. The sticky rice soup was mixed into the lime mortar and a new composite mortar was formed. The strength of sticky rice lime mortar was much stronger than that of pure lime mortar. It was very strong. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, many brick walls of buildings started to use the white sticky rice mortar. Enduring for the past several centuries, the Great Wall and Ming Dynasty are still standing, and some of them are even more rigid than modern buildings.

How was the Great Wall of China Built The Great Wall Construction in the Ancient Time
How was the Great Wall of China Built The Great Wall Restoration
How was the Great Wall of China Built The White Sticky Rice Mortar

How to Plan a Great Wall Hiking Tour

There are many stunning Great Walls in Beijing offering you the marvellous views, including Mutianyu Great Wall, Jiankou Great Wall, Simatai Great Wall, Badaling Great Wall and Huanghuacheng Great Wall. Exploring the representative Jinshanling Great Wall and the only lakeside Huanghuacheng Great Wall, trekking on steep mountain ridge of Jiankou Great and the near section of the better preserved Mutianyu Great Wall, admiring the famous and renovated Badaling Great Wall, you can encounter different sparking sides of each section and commemorate the man-made wonder of the ancient Chinese people. China Discovery offers you tailor-made tour service, and you can fully experience all the famous great walls in 2 days. If you have more time, it's also recommended to explore other attractions in Beijing, such as the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, and More!

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>> 2 Days Mutianyu and Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking

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