I find several details on the official history of the Great Wall of China questionable. This has been bothering me for over a year since I claimed that Marco Polo did not go to China, he went to Cathay, a different kingdom. As this is somewhat of a current issues since Donald Trump may be building his own Great Wall of ‘Murica I thought of revisiting it.
The Qin Wall
According to official history, the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, built the first section of the wall around 220-206 BC. Prior to this China consisted of several small kingdoms, but the emperor unified them, and built the wall to keep out hostile nomads. Or rather he unified already existing fortifications and walls from the various kingdoms in China and unified them into a bigger wall. This wall was, according to China Highlights website, 5,000 kilometers long. It supposedly took 20 years to build. China Highlights points out that there are historical records that suggest that “300,000–500,000 soldiers were assigned to both build and guard the Qin Great Wall with the help of 400,000–500,000 conscripted laborers. Other records suggest that up to 1.5 million men were used during the peak of Qin construction.”
This sounds like a huge amount of people, especially since Qin, according to a Wikipedia estimate, had a population of 20,000,000 at the time. If 1.5 million men were involved in the construction of the wall, it would be around 13% of the population. Moreover of that 20,000,000 at least half would be women, then there would be young boys and old men who couldn’t work, so I wonder how many of the able-bodied men in Qin would not have been working on the wall? This sounds dubious to me. On top of that, building the wall supposedly took 20 years. According to Wikipedia the Great Pyramid of Giza also took around 10-20 years to build. Building the great wall was probably even more arduous than the pyramid. And of course, many critically thinking people find the official claims about the building of the pyramid dubious as well.
The Great Wall of China website states that over a million men died building the wall. Wouldn’t it have been easier just to have those men fight the invading nomads instead of working them to death on the wall?
The Ming Wall
Much of the Great Wall we know today was built during the Ming dynasty around 1368-1644 AD. Much of the Qin wall has been lost. The Ming wall was 6,259 km long, a bit over a thousand kilometers longer than the Qin wall. According to China Highlights it took over 200 years to build this wall. This sounds more reasonable, however, it doesn’t mean necessarily that they spent all of the time building the wall. There might have been periods of inaction when it came to the wall.
The Great Wall certainly is genuine enough. I’ve climbed it as well, the feeling up there was marvellous. It really felt like a spiritual place, and not a place of war. Certain historical claims of the wall though might be different.
Lack of References
A book by J. Marshall Unger titled “Ideogram: Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning” has a chapter by the name of “The Great Wall of China and other exotic fables”. In it the author suggests that the Great Wall is indeed a fable constructed during the Ming period, and no older references to it exist. Even Wikipedia, i.e. main stream history seems to concur.
In an article on the History of the Great Wall of China, it is mentioned that “One of the first mentions of a wall built against northern invaders is found in a poem, dated from the seventh century BC”. Yet this is 500 years before the Great Wall of Qin was allegedly built. Walls and fortifications certainly existed before the Great Wall did. However, in the section on the Qin dynasty the article states: “Details of the construction [of the Qin wall] were not found in the official histories, but it could be inferred that the construction conditions were made especially difficult by the long stretches of mountains and semi-desert that the Great Wall traversed, the sparse populations of these areas, and the frigid winter climate.” Yes, you can infer whatever you want if you unquestionably accept the story, however it seems off that there are no records the greatest feat of human engineering ever that took decades to finish. You’d think there was some sort of scholar who would have recorded the details for posterity both to ensure that Qin could maintain their defenses and also to glorify the magnificence of their emperor. Perhaps someone did, and the records have been lost, or perhaps there was record since there was no wall.
Wikipedia does quote a Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) statesman Zhufu Yan’s comment on the construction. However, it appears his quote comes from the histriography book “Zizhi Tongjian”, which was published in 1084, at least 800 years after the Han dynasty ended. This sounds unreliable to say the least.
What does all of this mean?
I believe there is disinformation and a cover-up regarding the Great Wall. For what reason, I do not know, but I have a few different scenarios.
One is that the Qin wall never existed and it was invented during the Ming dynasty for some reason. One might be to give posthumous prestige to emperor Qin Shi Huang. Another might be that there had been another construction similar to the Great Wall, but the purpose had been different. Perhaps the lack of scholarly evidence of this construction is due to Jesuit missionaries creating ties with China around the time of the Ming dynasty. They might have confiscated ancient manuscripts or destroyed them.
If the construction was not simply a wall used for defense and transporting troops, what was it then? This is purely speculation, but it might have been some sort of aqueduct or perhaps even a power grid of some sort. China could hold all sorts of ruins and relics of an ancient civilization that are kept under wraps. There are pyramids in China that have not been excavated. Perhaps there are ruins under some sections of the Great Wall, and since the wall is there, it is a great excuse not to excavate there.
We have a clear image of how the walls look today, many people, like myself, have visited the wall, or at least seen many pictures of it. Perhaps it looked different in the past.
In 2009 it was announced that new sections of the Great Wall were uncovered spanning 180 miles. This might be true, or perhaps they are simply manufacturing these ruins, or “reconstructing” them, for tourism. Maybe there are ruins that would reveal an ancient civilization with an advanced technology in China and they are destroying it and making look like just another section of the wall.
The Great Wall of the Qin Dynasty: http://www.chinahighlights.com/greatwall/history/qin-dynasty-wall.htm
How Long It Took to Build the Great Wall of China: http://www.chinahighlights.com/greatwall/fact/building-time.htm
Great Pyramid of Giza: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyramid_of_Giza
Why was the Great Wall of China Built ?: http://www.great-wallofchina.com/why-was-the-great-wall-of-china-built.html
Ideogram: Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning: https://books.google.fi/books?id=fRqKreZFVTYC&pg=PA40&lpg=PA40&dq=china+great+wall+was+an+aqueduct&source=bl&ots=1-XsgUj7X9&sig=O3dF5rhNmWKcnm9Lntm0Rzwv9Z4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjC8ZmDm7DKAhUGqHIKHUjxB2wQ6AEISDAJ#v=onepage&q=china%20great%20wall%20was%20an%20aqueduct&f=false
History of the Great Wall of China: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Great_Wall_of_China
Zizhi Tongjian: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zizhi_Tongjian
Jesuit China missions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesuit_China_missions
180 Hidden Miles of Great Wall Found: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/world/asia/21wall.html?_r=0
My other writings on ancient China: