Juyan Fortress of Great Wall

Great Wall Sections - Gansu

Built in 102 BC in the Han Dynasty (206BC - 220), relics of Juyan Fortress of the Chinese Great Wall were scattered along the two banks of the Ejina River in Jinta County in Gansu Province, and to the north of Jinsi Tunao (the place's name in Mongolian) in Inner Mongolia. In ancient times, the land where this fortress stood was called Juyan, so the fortress was named after the land – Juyan Fortress.The remains of the Juyan Fortress of the Great Wall measure about 350 km (217 miles) from northeast to southwest, much of which have been blown off by wind or buried by sand.

Today there are about 170 sites of the Great Wall including barriers, walls, fortresses and beacon towers. They were all built in accordance with local conditions. Some of them were built of grey mud bricks and some were piled up by rocks or stone plates. The distance between two beacon towers varies from 1,300 meters (1,422 yards) to 2,000 meters (2,187 yards). In some places, a river was used as a natural barrier.

Juyan Fortress is famous for the over 30,000 wooden slips recording events of the Han Dynasty unearthed around it. The weather here is dry and windy, and the rainfall is low, which is a good condition for the preservation of cultural relics underground. The amount makes the area No.1 for wooden slips discovered in China. It is beyond comparison around the world. What's more important, they have recorded all aspects of culture, economics, military history, technology and politics in the Han Dynasty, which have significant historical, scientific and cultural relic value.

Juyan wooden slips recording events of the Han Dynasty can be divided into the old and the new ones by the time they were unearthed. The old wooden slips were discovered in Diwan, Dawan and Pochengzi of the Juyan area in 1930 by Bergmann, a member of the Sino-Swedish Expedition to Northwest China. There are over 10,000 slips, most of which were made of wood, except for a few bamboo slips. Now these old slips are kept in Taiwan. The new wooden slips were unearthed between 1972 and 1976.

The over 20,000 wooden slips were discovered in Pochengzi, Jiaqusai and Jianshui Jinguan by a Juyan archaeological team. Currently they are kept in the Gansu Provincial Museum, except for hundreds of scattered pieces left among the people. Most of the Juyan Han wooden slips are Great Wall garrison files from between the last years of the Wudi Reign (157BC – 141BC) of the Western Han Dynasty to the middle of the Eastern Han Dynasty. A small portion of the wooden slips are books, historical calendars and personal letters. The content involves the garrison, border defense, combat service, administrative system and the lives of soldiers' families.

For example, a script composed of 17 pieces of wooden slips described the alarm system of the strategic passes in the Han Dynasty, in which it described in detail what duties each pass should perform in military communication. For example, the number and the sort of the signal fires and the transmitting methods varied with the number and intentions of the Huns, and with changes in weather and the timing of attacks. In addition, the ways to correct errors were recorded comprehensively in the wooden script.

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