How the Great Wall of China was constructed?

1.Select the sites to construct the Great Wall of China
2.Get construction materials locally or transport them to the construction sites
3.Construct the wall with different methods in different sites and time periods 

How the construction locations of Great Wall were selected?

The construction of the Great Wall lasted more than 2,500 years, and the construction locations varied in different states and dynasties due to the different military situations and topographies.

Generally speaking, the Great Wall was built alongside the boundary lines between different states or between agricultural and nomadic civilization to protect the people and their terrain from invasions. For instance, the Chu State (1115 – 223 BC) built the wall along the boundary line between their own state and the Qi State (1122 – 221 BC), so that they could defend against the invasions from Qi State. In the Qin dynasty (221 – 207 BC), Emperor Qin Shihuang ordered  the construction of walls along the boundary line between Central Plain and nomadic nations to protect the terrain from Huns. 

Mountain-Supported Simatai Great Wall
Mountain-Supported Simatai Section

In order to resist the invasions of those nomadic nations whose cavalries were quite strong, the constructors also took advantages of topographies. Many parts of the Great Wall were built along a mountain ridge, for the sheer mountain ridge could add more defensive value to the wall. Besides, when the wall reached the most danger-ridden cliffs, the builders would stop building the wall and take the cliffs as a natural barrier. This design can be found in many sections such as Simatai and it is called by experts "the mountain-supported wall".

Besides, on the sites which were easier to be captured or frequently attacked like valleys, rivers transition spots or the strongholds on the plain, passes with stronger defensive abilities were generally built. In this case, it could reach the effect that “even if one man guards the pass, ten thousand enemies are unable to get through”. Moreover, the watchtowers and beacon towers were usually built on the high spots to observe the enemy and send the alert massages more easily and clearly.

How was the Great Wall of China constructed?

The Great Wall was originally developed from the city wall. The people primarily used wooden handrails, muddy walls and stone walls to protect themselves. They usually took advantage of nature and dug the ditches, piled earth, planted trees, as well as cut through the hills to form a defensive line. With the development of construction skills, the construction methods of the Great Wall became more and more mature, so the defensive system were more complete than before. In addition to the walls, necessary parts like fortresses, watch towers, passes were also added along the wall.

In the construction process, the workers mainly obtained the materials locally to reduce the workload. For example, the workers usually built the sections on desert by paving a layer of sand and small stone mixtures, and adding a layer of reeds and red willows. Finally, the walls were built layer by layer. They also built the sections along the mountain ridge by piling up the local stones. In addition, there were some materials like sticky rice and bricks conveyed from other places to reinforce the walls.

Due to the entire massive construction project was impossible to control by one person, it was divided into different sections which were managed by different generals. In the Qin Dynasty (221 – 207 BC), the government set twelve counties along the boundary line to build walls in different areas. The following dynasties also continued to use the same method to finish the entire project. The famous General Qi Jiguang of Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644AD) was once in charge of the construction work near Beijing.

How materials were delivered to the construction sites?

In order to save efforts, the workers obtained raw materials as locally as possible, but there still were some materials delivered from other places. The workers usually conveyed the materials in the following ways.

Transport by manpower

This was the most primitive way to convey the materials to the construction site. The workers usually shouldered the bricks and stones or carried the materials with baskets or sticks to the mountain. Apart from these methods, they also queued along the mountains and passed the baskets with stones one by one, which improved transport efficiency a lot. In winter, they splashed water to the ground and after an icy road was formed, they could push or pull the huge building stones easily.

Transport by some simple machines and tools

Donkey Carried Great Wall Bricks
Donkey Carried Wall Bricks
The workers had already learned to use some simple machines and tools to deliver the materials. They transported the stones by wheelbarrows when the construction sites were on the relatively flat ground. They also used a rolling log and crowbar to convey the huge stone to the mountain. Moreover, if they needed to transfer the materials through a valley, they would tie a rope across the valley and slide the basket from one side to the other side.

Transport by animals

It is said that goats and donkeys were used to deliver the stones and bricks when the workers built the Badaling Great Wall. There was a legend that the workers tied up the bricks on the horns of the goat and put the baskets with stones on the back of the donkey, and then they tempted and moved these animals to take these items to the mountain.
- Last updated on Apr. 15, 2021 -
Questions & Answers on How the Great Wall of China was constructed?
Asked by Autumn from USA | Jan. 13, 2014 09:20Reply
Why did the people build the Great Wall of china
Answers (2)
Answered by Jose from USA | Jan. 13, 2014 09:24

To keep china safe
Answered by Lisa from UAE | Jan. 13, 2014 19:52

It was built to protect the people and territories south of the wall from a continued threat of invasion by the northern nomadic tribes.
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