Zhou Dynasty Great Wall

Zhou Dynasty Great Wall

The Zhou Dynasty is traditionally divided into two periods: Western Zhou (11th century BC-771BC) and Eastern Zhou (770BC-221BC). And the Eastern Zhou has two periods: the Spring and Autumn Period (770BC-476BC) and the Warring States Period (476BC-221BC)

Spanning 2,700 years of Chinese history, ranging from the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), over twenty states and dynasties were involved in the building of the Great Wall. The creation of the wall was initiated during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period to prevent the invasion by other states of China and outer tribes.

Walls Built in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC - 476 BC)

Chu State

According to historical records, the first part of the Great Wall was built by Chu State. Chu State was a small state that gradually developed by conquering weak neighbors during the Spring and Autumn Period. To control China and prevent the intrusion of the Jin and Qi states, Chu State built a series of walls along its northern frontier in about 656BC. These boundary markers would eventually evolve into the Great Wall. Shaped like a "U", the Wall of Chu was referred to as "the Rectangle Wall".

Entering the Warring States Period, Chu State extended its wall to guard against the attack from other states especially the mighty Qin. As such, the wall of Chu became more integrated and solid. At this point, the site now included the Lushan and Yexian Counties of Pingdingshan City, Wugang City, Fangcheng and the Nanzhao Counties of City in Henan Province.

Zhou Dynasty Great Wall Zhou Dynasty Great Wall

Qi State

Qi State was another state that participated in the building of the wall. Qi construction of the Wall commenced in the middle of the Spring and Autumn Period and finished in the middle of the Warring States Period. The whole construction lasted 300 years covering a length of 600 kilometers (372 miles). That was later called the Famous Wall of Qi.

Similar to Chu State, Qi State built the fortification to prevent intrusion by other states and outer tribes. It became one of the most influential military defenses in Chinese history. Its ramparts, passes, fortresses and beacon towers formed an integrated military defense system around which important historical events and campaigns were held.

The Wall of Qi stretched across almost the whole of Shandong Province, from the west in Changqing County to the east in Jiaonan County, passing through eight cities to reach the Yellow Sea of China.

With the development of Chinese society, the defense function of the Wall of Qi no longer exists. Only relics are left.

Walls Built in the Warring States Period (476BC-221BC)

Battles during the Spring and Autumn Periods and the Warring States Period occurred very often, particularly during the period of the "Seven Powers of the Warring States Period". Each state was eager to set the boundaries of its territory. To defend the state against invasion, they each built defense walls. With the increasing heat of the battles, the walls were continuously extended. The "Seven Powers" of Qin, Qi, Chu, Han, Yan, Zhao and Wei each built or extended their walls. Except for the Walls of Chu in the Yangtze River valley, all the others were in the Yellow River valley and Northern China areas.

Zhou Dynasty Great Wall

Qin State

During the early Warring States Period, Qin State suffered from a weak economy, civil strife and repeated invasions by Wei State. To protect Qin State, the kings, Qin Ligong and Qin Jiangong successively, built the wall to the west of the Yellow River and the Luo River - a site that can now be found in Northern Shaanxi in Shaanxi Province.

An additional section was built along the northwest frontier of the state by King Qin Zhaogong. To the northwest of Qin State lay the Yiqu, a branch of the ancient Chinese Xirong people. Powerful during the Spring and Autumn Periods, these people held battles with the Qin from time to time. To guard against the intrusion of the Yiqu, King Qin Huiwen built the fortification along the north of his frontier. However, it was not until the period of King Qin Zhaogong that the Yiqu were completely defeated and the wall of Qin was built. These sites now lie in Gansu Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Zhao State

According to historical record, the Wall of Zhao State was built in two sections. One section was built to the south of Zhao State in 333BC to prevent attacks from Wei and later the strong Qin. It was about 200 kilometers (124 miles) long and its site can now be found in Linzhang County and Cixian County of Hebei Province.

The other section was built in 300BC by King Zhao Wuling to prevent attacks from the Hu people. King Zhao Wuling was a wise king that made great efforts to make reforms and promote the culture exchange of different nations. He learned from the Hu people on one hand, and fought against the invasion of Hu people on the other. This section was located in what now is Inner Mongolia in China.

Zhou Dynasty Great Wall

Zhongshan State

Zhongshan State was a small but powerful one. During the Warring States Period, Zhongshan was aligned with the Yan and the Qin, its northern and eastern neighbors, and experienced a long and peaceful period. However its southwestern neighbors, the Zhao and Wei states, considered it a serious danger. So Zhongshan built the wall in 369BC to protect itself.

The wall of Zhongshan was at the junction of Hebei Province and Shanxi Province of China. It ran over Mt. Hengshan, across Mt. Taihangshan and finally reached the Xingtai area of Hebei Province, stretching about 250 kilometers (155 miles).

Wei State

The wall of Wei had two sections: the first was the Hexi Wall located in the northwest of Wei, and it was originally built to guard against the mighty Qin. The other was the Henan Wall in the south. The sites are located in now Huayin City, Hancheng City and County in Shaanxi Province. Starting at the foot of Qinling in Huayin, the Wall stretched to , Chengcheng and Heyang in the north and Hancheng in the east, through the Loess Altiplano to Inner Mongolia, and at last ended in Guyang, . It spanned more than 200 kilometers (124 miles). The longest and best preserved part ran about 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles), with a height of 2.2-11.4 meters (7.2-37.3 feet) and a width of 6-16 meters (19.7-52.4 feet). Today, only one or two sections remain including a fortress and beacon tower at a height of 7-11 meters (23-36 feet).

Zhenghan State

This part of the Wall was originally built by Zheng State in 355BC. After the Zheng were conquered by the Han, Han State continued to build and use the Wall. Some call this section the Wall of Han, while others call it the Wall of Zheng - hence the creation of the shared name Wall of Zhenghan. This part of the Wall connected with the southeastern Wall of Wei, and can be found in present Xinzheng City in Henan Province, once the capital of the Zheng and Han.

Zhou Dynasty Great Wall Zhou Dynasty Great Wall

Yan State

The Wall of Yan State also had two sections: the Wall of Yishui and the Wall of the North. Construction of the Wall of Yishui, from 334BC to 311BC, was done to guard against the attack from the Zhao, Qi and Qin. It stretched about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from the foot of present Mt. Taihangshan of Yixian County through Xushui and Anxin Counties, via XiongXian County and ended in Wen'an County in Hebei Province.

The Wall of the North was built to guard against intrusion by nomadic people like the Donghu. This part was built in 254BC, which was the last wall built in the Warring States Period. It went through present Zhangjiakou City of Hebei Province, Inner Mongolia, across Hebei Province, City of Liaoning Province, over Mt. Yiwulu Shan, and reached Liaoyang of Liaoning Province. Now the sites of Wall of Yan can be found in the above-mentioned areas.

Virtual Field Trip: The Great Wall of China

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