Great Wall of Jin Dynasty (265 - 420)

Jin (265 – 420) is one of the dynasties in Chinese history that didn't implement massive construction work of the Great Wall, but renovated the eastern segment of the Great Wall of the Qin Dynasty (221 – 207 BC) to defend against the nomadic tribes mainly distributed outside the northeast border. Jin also built Great Wall along its southeast coast to block pirates from the sea.

How Long is the Jin Dynasty Great Wall?

Jin is the second dynasty in China that extended the Great Wall to present North Korea after the Qin Dynasty. Based on the Qin Great Wall, Great Wall of Jin Dynasty along the northern border stretched eastwards from Wencheng (today's Dongcheng in Yangyuan County, Hebei Province) to Tateishi in North Korea. This defensive line extended to around 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) and traversed twisting valleys as well as wide prairie. There is also a stretch of coastal wall in today's Linjiang, Zhejiang Province with a total length of 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles).

When and Why Did the Jin Dynasty Build the Great Wall?

During that period, small groups of cavalries of the northern nomadic tribes, especially Xianbei, sometimes violated the northeast frontier and brought fear and panic to people living along the boundary. In 281, Emperor Wu of the Western Jin Dynasty (265 - 316) designated Tang Bin (235 – 294) as the general to safeguard the border security. Under Tang's command, soldiers stationed along the frontier were well equipped with freshly-cast sophisticated weapons and began to take rigorous training. At the same time, he also directed the renovation work of the eastern segment of Qin Dynasty Great Wall and assembled troops at each vital fortress along the wall. However, in which year did the repair work exactly start is not clearly documented. Some scholars have made speculations and 283 is a mostly acceptable conclusion. As well, emperors of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 – 420) also ordered the construction of the coastal Great Wall to resist pirates.

Why Didn't Jin Dynasty Massively Build the Great Wall?

On one hand, during the Jin Dynasty, the government of the central plain had an absolute advantage in military power with well-armed troops as its backup, so the need of Great Wall to block the northern nomadic tribes were not very necessary.

On the other hand, rulers of the Jin Dynasty adopted the policy of conciliation towards the northern tribes and conferred official ranks to the chiefs. Some nomads even moved to the central plain to mix with the Han people. Therefore, the central court had maintained affiliation with most nomadic tribes and it was certainly not necessary to input much manpower and money in massive construction work of the Great Wall.

Relics of the Great Wall of Jin Dynasty - Linhai Great Wall

The Great Wall pass in Linhai City, Zhejiang Province, is a well-preserve representation of the Jin Dynasty Great Wall which was built along the mountain ranges on the East Sea coast. The pass was of great military importance and had been renovated for several times after being founded to defend against pirates and invaders coming from the sea. Besides the military purpose, the pass also played an important role in flood control.

Ramparts of this pass measure 6,280 meters (6,870 yards) in length and 7 meters (23 feet) in height with 13 two-storey watchtowers distributed nearby. There are a total of seven gates around the pass, named Chonghe, Xingshan, Zhenning, Jingyue, Fengtai, Cangmen, and Chaotian, among which Xingshan, Zhenning, Jingyue, and Chaotian facing the sea are the major gates with semicircle barbicans in front of each gate.

- Last updated on Aug. 02, 2022 -
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