Great Wall in Inner Mongolia

The Great Wall begins its longest and most colorful journey when it arrives at Inner Mongolia. Since ancient times, thsi area has been the border where nomadic culture interlaces with the southern farming culture. Both the rulers of the Han nationality and the nomadic tribes actively built their walls in this land.

The vast Inner Mongolia land crisscrosses many sections of Great Wall in different dynasties. The wall in this region has two features in general. The first is that it is the longest compared with these in other provinces. It occupies one third of the total length of the Great Wall. Second, of the more than 2,000 years from Spring and Autumn Period to the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), almost every dynasty has left its own wall here, which makes other regions incomparable.

The earliest Great Wall in Inner Mongolia is Zhao's wall built by Zhao State in Warring States, in the years around 306 BC to 300 BC during King Wuling's rule. It measures over 311 miles, most of which are built by rammed earth. Baidaoling Great Wall is located in the north suburbs of , and measures 6.6 feet high and 10.9 yards wide. It occupies an important military position. The beacon towers are densely distributed on the wall. Within merely 0.3 miles, there stand six beacon towers, which have become an attractive scene in . Sometimes you can see a few copper or iron arrowheads, which were used in the ancient wars scattered around. If you are lucky enough, you are even surprised to find ancient Chinese currency lying quietly at your feet. The Zhao's wall is really important in Chinese history, the following Qin's wall was built just by connecting Yan's wall on the basis of it.

Compared with other well-repaired walls like Badaling, the wall in Inner Mongolia is less famous and incomplete. The recent archaeological work has discovered many more relics of the Great Wall in this area, which seems to lengthen the wall little by little, but at the same time, because of natural disasters and human destruction, the wall in Inner Mongolia is shortening day by day. We must take immediate action to rescue it, or it will disappear in the near future.

Jilu Fortress

Located to the northwest of Dengkou County in Inner Mongolia, Jilu Fortress was the passage in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220) to the area north of the Great Wall. It was the gateway to the northwestern region of the Han Dynasty. Lying against the Han Dynasty Great Wall in the north and neighboring Tushenze (an ancient lake), Jilu Fortress was a strategic passage for transportation between the north and south of Yinshan Mountain in ancient times.

According to historical records, Jilu Fortress belonged to Yuhun Prefecture, Shuofang County which was set up in 121BC in the Han Dynasty. In 51BC, when Huhanye Chanyu (The Khan of Hun who ruled from 58BC to 31BC) returned to his territory from the central plains, it was out of Jilu Fortress that the Emperor Xuandi of Han Dynasty dispatched troops to escort him home. At that time, the climate was better, and the land where Jilu Fortress is positioned was grassland rather than today's desert. Due to favorable resources of water, soil and daylight, the land was brought into cultivation. The Emperor Xuandi allocated grains grown in the farmland near Jilu Fortress as the food for Huhanye and his men. In 89, it was again through Jilu Fortress that the generals Dou Xian and Geng Bing attacked the northern Hun tribes.

From these historical events, we can see that Jilu Fortress had great military and agricultural importance in the Han Dynasty. Today, the relic of Jilu Fortress is a 68.5 meters (74.9 yards) square city standing at a platform on a mountain slope. The remains of the wall measure an average of seven meters (23 feet) tall. The top is 3.7 meters (4.0 yards) thick and the bottom is 5.3 to 5.5 meters (5.8 to 6.0 yards) thick. Unearthed cultural relics include cord-marked bricks and tiles, arrows and a bronze crossbow. Within the purview of 6.2 miles around the Jilu Fortress, there are a dozen sites of beacon towers from the Han Dynasty which were used as a line of definse and an alarm system. Jilu Fortress and the beacon towers around it together made up the fortified strongholds on the northwest border of the Han Dynasty.

Gaoque Fortress

Gaoque Fortress an important pass in the Wall to the west of Zhao State. It is located in the Langshan Mountain Pass (Langshan Kou) stretching from the west of Yinshan Mountain to the east of Langshan Mountain. Bounded by the Mongolian Plateau to the north and cultivated plains along the Yellow River to the south, the region occupies an extremely important position to both the military and transportation. There is no earth in the mountains of this region, so the walls were often built with pieces of rocks. Having been affected by weathering and erosion for many centuries, the original purple or grayish rocks have turned into black or black-green, measuring 30 cm to 50 cm (0.3 yards to 0.5 yards) wide and 5 cm to 20 cm (0.05 yards to 0.2 yards) thick.

Gaoque Fortress was the first military pass built by King Wuling of Zhao in 300BC. The remains of Gaoque Fortress are located on a terrace of a steep cliff in Wulate Houqi in Inner Mongolia. It is composed of two small cities. The 40m (44 yards) square northern city was laid up by big pebbles. The southern city is rectangular, measuring 64m (70 yards) from east to west, and 48m (52 yards) from north to south, where cultural relics such as iron axes, arrows and plates were unearthed. The different styles of these two cities suggest that they were built in different times.

A 300m (328 yards) stone wall surrounds the city sites and connects to a small hill to the west. On the hill is a square stone building which is reputed to be the site of a collapsed beacon tower. Standing afar and overlooking the Gaoque Fortress, we can see two steep mountain tops standing opposite each other, just like a high gate tower (Gaoque in Chinese), and this explains why the name of this Great Wall fortress is called 'Gaoque'.

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