Did the Huns ever invade China?

  The great wall

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1 Introduction

2. The term "the great wall"

3rd story

3.1. The pre-imperial period (before 221 B.C.E.)
3.2. The time from the founding of the Empire in 221 B.C.E. up to the Sui dynasty (581-618)
3.3. Sui Dynasty (581-618 CE) to the present

4. Location, construction, management, functioning
4.1. Geographical definition
4.2. The construction of the wall
4.3. Military organization and the functioning of the great wall

5. The wall in the mirror of reflections

6. Problems and questions

7. Bibliography

8. Author and copyright notice

1 Introduction

The Great Wall: There is hardly any other building in the world that is so closely associated with a certain culture as this one. It is almost a synonym for a country that is known today under the western name "China", similar to the pyramids symbolizing Egypt. Over a length of about 6,300 km it crosses the north Chinese steppe and mountainous landscape (about 4,000 km in the main line), crosses three climate zones from east to west as well as the five vegetation zones and moves at heights of 0 to 3,500 meters. In order to transfer these standards to Europe, the course of this wall would correspond to a straight line between London and Leningrad, or between Paris and Bucharest.[1]

What is surprising about a historical building of this size is the fact that although the wall has found its way into countless travel signs in the past, there is hardly any scientific discussion of this object, especially in the western hemisphere.[2] But the few that exist in the West, such as William Edgar Geil’s The Great Wall of China, present themselves to us more as travel descriptions than as scientific treatises.[3] which leads to the question: why?

Discussing this question should not be easy and is actually not the aim of this work. Nevertheless, I would like to add a few considerations here that could adequately explain why hardly anyone in the West has yet scientifically addressed the Great Wall.

First of all, it has to be said that when researching a building, it is essential that the viewer can form his own picture of it on site, i.e. that he or she has to conduct field research. Unfortunately, in the recent past it was mostly forbidden by the state for foreigners to visit the 'national sanctuary' away from the tourist destinations such as Badaling or Simatai,[4] so that it was only possible to see restored and reconstructed parts of the wall. Outwardly, these pieces do justice to the object as a whole (like a piece of cake can be a picture for a whole cake), but have some defects in the details,[5] so that one could have come to wrong conclusions and perhaps that is why western scholars have shied away from a more recent academic examination of the wall (only with the opening policy of the last 20 years is freer access to the wall possible).

Another argument is that although there is no lack of sources (e.g. the dynasty stories) in which the wall (or a wall) is mentioned, such sources are limited to descriptions, such as an army from Empire X about a Wall invaded the neighboring Empire Y, and the like. Such hints may be useful to roughly classify the wall in terms of time, but they are hardly helpful in addressing and discussing, for example, sociological, economic and other aspects that are connected with the wall.[6]

Other reasons could be that you think you know everything there is to know about the wall, or that you pay too much respect to the building as such to dare to undermine its meaning by uncovering irregularities, or or or.

As far as this housework is concerned, I do not intend to cite the latest findings about the wall, since primary sources are numerous but often hardly meaningful and secondary sources are usually in short supply. I just want to summarize what some scholars have unearthed about the Wall in the past, present their theories and their conclusions, to give the reader an idea of ​​what is known as "The Great Wall".

2. The term "the great wall"

Before I go into media res, I would like to state in advance that when using the term “Great Wall” one should know that this is not the original name of the building.

Called changcheng 長城 in Chinese, it should rather be “the long wall” (chang 長 - long, cheng 城 - wall, eigtl. “The walled city”), so that when one speaks of “the great wall”, one by that actually means "the long wall".[7] This designation of the world-famous building can be traced back to the Shiji 史記, the historical records of Sima Qians 司馬遷 (135? - 93? BC), where there are several places of "long walls" that are said to have been between individual principalities is. The early historian takes, for example, in his account of Chen She (originally Chen Sheng 陳勝,? - approx. 208 BC, coming from a poor background), placed himself at the head of an uprising under the 2nd emperor, that of peasants, laborers and Slaves were carried and bloodily knocked down)[8] direct reference to what one wants to identify as the wall (at least one assumes the beginnings of the great wall here), whereby from his point of view it is only about "a long wall". It says: “He had Meng Tian build a long wall in the north and defend the barrier, and the Xiongnu pushed back more than 700 li, so that the Hu people[9] did not dare to penetrate south and graze (their) horses (there) ... "

Another popular name for the wall is derived from Shiji, namely wanli changcheng 萬里長城 - the 10,000 li "long" wall. This name is traced back to a quote which, according to Sima Qian, was said to have come from General Meng Tian 蒙恬 (? - 210 BC), the commissioned builder of the wall: “Meng Tian sighed and said: 'What crime in heaven [I have committed] that I should die without fail? 'After a long time he spoke slowly:' I have [committed] a crime for which I certainly [deserve] death. Connected from Lintao to Liaodong, I have built walls and trenches over more than 10,000 li. How could it be that I didn't cut the earth's veins? This is my crime. "Then he killed himself by ingesting a poison."[10]

Another, in the West rather unknown and very lyrical term, is zisai 紫 塞 "purple barrier" or "purple border". This name is found in Gu Jin zhu 古今 注, Chapter 2, which Peter Lum also used for his work on the great wall.[11] Finally, in old geographical works we find the rather banal designation as biancheng 邊城 or bianqiang 邊牆, “Grenzwall” or “Grenzmauer”.

Unfortunately, I don't know where the nowadays used term “the great wall” comes from, but it is likely to be an interpretation of the term changcheng used by Western scholars and travelers who moved from the 17th century onwards. stayed in China and was made under the impression of the sheer unimaginable size of the building. Through the travel reports and other representations of these travelers, this term finally became established in Western linguistic usage over time. When I write about "the great wall" in the following, I am only bowing to the linguistic conventions that have emerged in the course of history, but actually I will always mean "the long wall".

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3.1 The pre-imperial period (before 221 B.C.E.)

The origins of the Great Wall can be found in an era marked by the political fragmentation of the Chinese world: the Eastern Zhou Dynasty 東周 (771-221 B.C.E.). This period was dominated by the gradual disintegration of the feudal fief structures, which the ruling house of the Zhou 周 had used for several hundred years to ensure stability and security in the empire. The once small fiefdoms or principalities, which wrapped themselves like a ring around the central ruling domain of the Zhou, underwent an astonishing development in technical and cultural terms, which gave them an increasingly greater lead over the ruling house. Entangled in constant clashes with the barbaric peoples of the north, the principalities saw themselves forced to carry out political and social reforms and restructuring in their countries and to expand in order to be able to meet the constantly changing requirements adequately, while the central Zhou Empire in a Kind of slumber could linger. From the fiefs, powerful territorial states gradually arose, which soon stretched their feelers for power in the Chinese world, so that the rulers of Zhou, who until then had been passive about developments in the principalities, finally only nominally and ritually held power in the empire held, while the de facto power lay with the princes in the former fiefs. If one felt, as one was once related or friends with the ruling house, spiritually still committed to the cultural heritage of the Zhou, then these relationships dissolved over the generations, so that finally the Zhou ritually only played a subordinate role played in the structure of that time. This development culminated in the period known as the Warring States Period (zhanguo 戰國, 453-221 B.C.E.), in which the individual principalities fought each other in the struggle for power and larger empires simply annexed the smaller ones.[12]

If one wants to write about the origins of the Great Wall, it is first necessary to distinguish between two levels: a textual and a non-textual level.

In contrast to archeology, which previously had several walls in China for the 5th / 4th century. BC was able to prove, references to "great walls" (in retrospect it becomes clear why I choose the plural here) have been found in many ancient texts, according to which the first beginnings of these in the 7th century BC to be embarrassed. For example the Guanzi 管子, a collection of treatises on politics and economics, the followers of a certain Guan Zhong’s 管仲, minister in the Princely Kingdom of Qi 齊 under Huangong 桓公 (ruled approx. 685-642) [13] and precursors of legal ideas are said to have compiled. It says: “Master Guan said, 'The Yang of the great wall is Lu; the yin of the great wall is qi. ’"[14] If one follows this passage, then around the middle of the 7th century. BC a wall exists that is said to have been between the two principalities of Qi and Lu 魯 (two empires that roughly divided the area of ​​today's Shandong 山东 province). To what extent this reference is to be taken as authentic is unclear in view of the truthfulness of the Guanzi, which is doubted by many scholars. What one can at least confirm with the help of mentions in other texts and is also confirmed by archaeological finds is the existence of a "great wall of Qi". For example, in a commentary on Zhushu jinian 竹 書 紀年, the so-called bamboo annals, there is a passage where it says: “In the year 20 after Liang Hui became ruler (approx. 351 BC), Qi built a wall that was used for [the] great wall held up. "[15] And in Shuijingzhu 水經注, a historical geographical commentary attributed to a Li Daoyan 酈 道 元 (Northern Wei Dynasty 魏, died 527 CE), it says, referring to the Zhushu jinian: “In the year 20 of the Duke Lie of Jin (approx. 408 BCE), ordered the rulers Han Jingzi, Zhao Liezi and Zhai Yuan to take to the field against Qi. [They] crossed the great wall. ”The most abundant source for a“ wall of qi ”is Shiji. Several passages in it refer to the fact that there was a wall in qi, for example in the chapter on the family of Zhao趙: "In the 7th year (approx. 368 BC) he [Prince Cheng of Zhao] invaded Qi and reached the great wall."[16] or in a comment on a passage in the chapter about the family of Chu 楚: “King Xuan of Qi (ruled approx. 342-324 BC) had a great wall built on a mountain range, in the east to the sea and to the west to Jizhou,[17] over more than a thousand li to protect yourself from Chu. " [18]
On the basis of these and other historical sources, a large number of “great walls” can be identified and roughly dated.[19] One of them is a wall in the southern kingdom of Chu, which, according to sources, dates back to around 611 B.C.E. can be dated (whereas archaeological finds show a wall in Chu for the early 4th century B.C.E., but this does not necessarily mean that there was no wall in Chu before). There are also references to a wall in Wei as a protective wall against the increasingly strong neighbor in the west, the principality of Qin 秦. In Qin itself there was a wall that emerged from the transition phase from the 4th to the 3rd century. BC seemed to come from here (as protection against the steppe peoples further to the northwest) and finally also in Zhao and Yan 燕, where walls were erected on two borders: on the one hand in the north as protection against the steppe peoples resident there, on the other hand against the other principalities located there in the south . So before we get to do with “the great wall”, we first have to deal with a large number of smaller, “large walls”, the course of which also did not match the course of the current wall.
Since the constructions of the individual walls can be assigned to different periods of time, I would like to give a chronological order at this point, starting with the wall that is considered to be the oldest:[20]

1. Wall of Qi (middle of the 7th century B.C.E.,)

2. Chu Wall (late 7th century B.C.)

3rd Wall of Wei (approx. Second half of the 4th century B.C.)

4th Wall of Han (approx. 4th-3rd century B.C.)

5th Wall of Zhao (approx. 4th-3rd century B.C.)

6. Yan Wall (approx. 4th-3rd century B.C.)

7th wall of Qin (approx. 4th-3rd century B.C.)[21]

As an addendum, it should be noted that the designation “wall” is confusing, since this term is used to imagine a building made of stone bricks, but de facto the “walls” of that era and long afterwards were merely “earth walls” and “Cyclopean” piled up stone walls that alternated with mere chopping of wood, ”as Möllendorf put it.[22] The old construction of that time can still be seen in the western sections of today's wall.

3.2 The time from the founding of the Empire in 221 B.C.E. up to the Sui dynasty (581-618)

As already mentioned in the first sections, what we can admire today as the great wall is attributed to the initiative of the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shihuangdi 秦始皇 帝.[23] After he died in 221 B.C.E. After forcibly uniting the various principalities and thus ending a phase of war that had lasted more than 200 years, he saw the need to first “grind” the walls (which means the individual walls mentioned above) inside the new empire.[24] On the one hand, this was because these hurdles made it difficult for him to operate with his army in the interior of the country, and on the other hand, it was intended to create inhibitions for any aspirations for independence (because the former principalities found it difficult to come to terms with the unity through Qin ) should be set high.The walls of the northern kingdoms of Zhao, Yan and Qin were excluded from this demolition because they were supposed to continue to serve as protective walls against the “barbarians” north of the Chinese empire.

For this purpose the first emperor commissioned his general Meng Tian in 214 B.C.E. with connecting the northern walls to create a continuous barrier,[25] from Liaodong 遼東 in the east (in today's Liaoning province on the border with North Korea) to Lintao 臨洮 in the west (about 80 km southwest of Lanzhou in today's Gansu province), "over 10,000 li".[26] This undertaking must have been logistically huge, since the Shiji gives the number of men alone, who Meng Tian commanded in the campaign against the northern barbarians and after which he had the wall built, as 300,000.[27] If one now assumes that these people must have been primarily soldiers, one can roughly imagine how many people in total must have contributed to the construction of the wall, plus the architects, craftsmen, convicts, farmers and and and. Unfortunately, we hardly learn anything about logistics from the sources available to us today. We are missing building reports, protocols, command boards and the like that would enable us to give a more precise picture of what happened in the area around the wall at that time. But one thing is certain: the extensive reforms and standardization measures, such as the standardization of the written language (important for mutual official correspondence) or the standardization of the track widths of horse carts (important for the transport of building materials), among others, carried out under the first emperor have played a decisive role in the realization of this project.[28]

The 221 B.C.E. enforced peace was short-lived. With the death of the first emperor in 210 B.C.E. the rapid decline of the Qin Dynasty began. Above all, the compulsory labor that the first emperor demanded of his subjects, for example to build the wall, and the harsh penal system had already caused displeasure among the population, but were intensified under the second emperor, Huhai 胡亥, so that finally a a large proportion of the male rural residents had to perform forced labor.[29] This led to famine in the empire, as fields could no longer be tilled, entire areas were deserted, and the silent resistance among the people turned into open rebellion. The still existing old nobility of the former principalities, which the first emperor could not neutralize despite extensive political measures, took advantage of this and put themselves at the service of slave and peasant revolts, which soon broke out all over the empire.[30] Last but not least, this combination put the Qin dynasty in the form of the insurgents Liu Bang 劉邦 (256-195 BCE) and Xiang Yu 項羽 (232-202 BCE), the first a minor police officer from the province, the second a scion of the old Chu nobility , the fatal blow. The year 206 B.C.E. marks the end of the short-lived but incisive Qin rule and the beginning of the Han Dynasty 漢, which was founded under Liu Bang, who henceforth referred to himself as Han Gaozu 漢 高祖.

The Xiongnu, who had been driven far north by Qin Shihuangdi and were reorganized there, now increasingly penetrated the land south of the wall, where they devastated entire areas.[31] In the turmoil of upheaval, the defense of the borders seemed to have received little attention, because the Chinese seemed too preoccupied with themselves to have recognized the danger that threatened them from the north at an early stage. With these ideas, however, the wall moved back into the interests of the rulers, albeit only for a short time, who put together a double strategy: On the one hand, they tried to buy peace from the "barbarians" in the form of a tribute trade (whereby barbaric Embassies were received as tribute delegations at the imperial court and received gifts from the Chinese ruler in exchange for their goods, which in most cases far exceeded the value of the tribute, making it a very profitable business for foreigners. Time 明 (1368-1644) the only legal form of foreign trade.) On the other hand, they used the time gained to take measures to strengthen the defense along the great wall. Additional garrisons were built and the wall line was extended far into the north-western regions in the form of chains of fortresses.[32]

But the psychological effect on the fringe peoples that the building of the wall had under the first emperor (after all, they had never seen anything similar before and were under the same impression as the later Europeans) was lost after they had succeeded several times to overcome the barrier.

In order to get the situation under control, the Chinese imperial court decided to take preventive measures and began to carry out large military campaigns against the nomads in the north. The aim was to prevent future incursions by means of a "first strike" and to displace the nomads far to the north, as happened particularly under Emperor Han Wudi 漢 武帝 (ruled 141-87 BC).[33] Due to diplomatic moves, these military campaigns were actually so successful that the Han rulers were able to expand their sphere of influence far to the south-east, as well as to the north and north-west, and extensive resettlement measures were carried out where land could be gained in the north beyond the wall. So-called "fortified farmers" were settled, on the one hand to ensure that the land was made arable and cultivated in order to support the military operations in the north with food products, on the other hand, in the event of new incursions, they should take up arms and defend their own fields and if not fend off the enemy, hold off until a relief army of the central government could rush to help and defeat the invaders.[34] With this, the wall lost its primary protective function in favor of these defensive farmers and since it appeared to be a hindrance to the rulers on any military expeditions to the north, they were left to their own devices and neglected.[35]

After 220 A.D. the Han Dynasty[36] collapsed due to internal disputes and due to "untalented" rulers, the monopolar Chinese world changed into a multipolar one: old restorative forces strengthened, independent principalities emerged ("Time of the 3 Reiche" 三國, 220-280 CE; Time of the "5 Barbarians and 16 principalities "十六 國, 304-436 CE;" Period of the southern and northern dynasties "南北朝, 420-577 CE) and vied for supremacy in the formerly strong Han empire. The “barbarians” again seized the opportunity and penetrated the empire mainly from the north, where they partially succeeded in settling down and proclaiming independent, partially Sinised kingdoms. The historical situation of the following period can be compared in many ways with the Warring States Period (453-221 B.C.E.). It was also in this period, until the reunification of the empire under the Sui 隨 (581-618 CE), that there was a renaissance in the building of the inner-Chinese wall. In order to protect themselves from each other, old, still existing wall fragments of the states of the pre-imperial times were restored and repaired, other walls in turn were completely rebuilt. Unfortunately, we have no indications from this period as to what exactly happened in relation to the building of the Wall in China at that time. The sources that have come down to us, including primarily the dynasty histories, are in their large number of documents that were only compiled under the Tang 唐 (618-906 CE) and were therefore written in retrospect (so they can only be considered authentic to a limited extent for the time after the Han) and comment rather sparsely on the wall.

The few pieces of information from the dynasty histories of that time include such as those from the Weishu 魏書, the history of the northern Wei dynasty (386-534 CE), where it says: “In the 2nd month, on the day rongchen (423 CE) ) a wall was built in the south of Changchuan, starting at Chicheng, west to Wuyuan, consistently more than 2,000 li, and as a precautionary measure watchtowers and garrisons were built. "[37]

Or the following information from the Bei Qishu 北齊 書 (History of the Northern Qi Dynasty, 550-577 CE) in the annals of the ruler Wen Xuan 文宣 (ruled 550-559 CE): “This year (555 CE) sent he 1.8 million men to build a wall that was more than 900 li long from Xiakou in the north of Yuzhou to Hengzhou. "[38]

And finally in the annals of Xuandi 宣帝 (ruled 578-579 CE) in the Bei Zhoushu 北周 書 (History of the Northern Zhou Dynasty, 557-581 CE): “In the 2nd year ... he sent men from Zhuzhou to Shandong to repair the ramparts and to build towers and fortified camps from Yanmen to Jieshi. "[39] From these and similar passages it can be seen that, as before in the Warring States' era, smaller, individual walls were more likely to be used as protective barriers; however, the course of the great wall of the first emperor was sometimes used to build new ones from its line To draw walls (which is still recognizable today by the many branches of the wall. For example, today's “outer wall” is identified with the wall of the northern Wei dynasty, see below).

It is interesting that the nomads who had gradually settled down, especially in the north, in turn began to erect walls to protect themselves from other, non-settled peoples who lived even further north. In the course of their Sinization along the northern Chinese border, the "former" nomads were forced to protect themselves from "their own kind" - an amusing amalgamation - and to take over and use the building of the wall in addition to agriculture, for example.

3.3. Sui Dynasty (581-618 CE) to the present

With the Sui, a strong, centralist rule came to power again, which after the smashing of the half-Sinized, nomadic kingdoms in the north, reunited the Chinese empire and put an end to the separation of north and south. Like the first emperor 800 years earlier, the Sui rulers were now forced to take defensive measures in the north in order to neutralize the threat posed by Turkic peoples who increasingly invaded China from the north-west: the Building of the wall along the northern border pushed again (evident from the relatively numerous evidence from the history of the Sui, the Suishu 隨 書)[40] and raised enormous amounts of human material in order to realize this undertaking in the shortest possible time (the Suishu reports how under Emperor Yangdi 煬 reg, r ).[41]

After the quick end of this short-lived dynasty, 618 CE, it was now up to the Tang rulers to decide the weal and woe of the empire and the wall.

But like the Han rulers before, the great ramparts in the north were more of a thorn in the side of the Tang rulers, as they seemed to be a hindrance to the Tang rulers, who were aiming for expansion.[42] In several military campaigns, they succeeded in expanding their sphere of influence far beyond the previous borders to such an extent that even the Korean ruler was ultimately forced to do so by erecting a 500 km long wall or a wall along the then Sino-Korean imperial borders halt the expansion of the Tang and prevent it from spreading to Korea.[43] The outwardly directed, aggressive policy, however, led to a neglect of the internal order of the empire and thus ultimately favored the circumstances that led to the so-called Anlushan uprising 安祿山 755/756 CE. led under the general of the same name, which primarily concerned disputes in the succession to the throne after the death of Xuanzong 玄宗 (r. 712-755 CE).[44]

The Tang Dynasty was able to recover from this ordeal, but the entire military apparatus had been badly affected in the course of the unrest, so that Turkic peoples from the northwest, as well as Tibetans from the west, are gradually seizing the opportunity were able to penetrate the western and northwestern areas of the empire and wrest large areas from the territory of the Tang. While the Chinese continued to be more preoccupied with themselves, mostly smaller independent kingdoms established themselves in these areas. 907 N / A the Tang empire was finally shattered and the country split again (Wudai era 五代 十 國, period of the 5 dynasties and 10 empires, 907-979 CE). The north came under the influence of a relatively far Sinized and sedentary people, the Khitan, who had succeeded in 907 in founding a kingdom based on the Chinese model (the Liao dynasty 遼) in the north (they were joined by a Tangut from 1032 in the west Kingdom, the Xixia 西夏 or western Xia) while further south a strong ruling house, the Song 宋 (960-1127), succeeded in uniting the divided empires there. Due to its geographical location further south, it was not possible for the song to carry out structural work on the great wall (which seems to be proven by the lack of references in the Songshi 宋史, the song's dynasty history. Fryer, on the other hand, reports at least one attempt by the song, to build a palisade of willow trees and elm wood over a length of 400 km)[45] and instead of military and strategic investments they bought the peace from the northern empires dearly through tribute payments in the form of silk, silver, tea and the like. These empires, for their part, faced the threat of onrushing nomadic peoples and began to build defenses along their own northern borders. But these barely offered adequate protection and so the Liao dynasty was ousted by a new group from the northeast, the Jurds. They founded another rule based on the Chinese model, the Jin Dynasty 金 (1115-1254), and pushed the militarily inferior Song further south, where they established the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). So it seems that in the period from 907 to 1279 some attempts were made among the "foreigners" to build new walls, but these attempts were short-lived due to the constantly changing rule in the north.[46]

Meanwhile, a new threat emerged in the north, the Mongols. With their extremely flexible cavalry armies, relying entirely on the shooting power of their mounted archers, they advanced from the beginning of the 13th century. from the north towards China (and in a westerly direction to Europe), defeated the empires of the Xixia and the Jin and finally also the Song dynasty, whose end of 1279 with the establishment of the Yuan dynasty ubil under Kubilai Khan (r . 1260-1294) was sealed. The yuan dynasty history, the yuanshi 元史, now has almost no information on what happened to the great wall at that time. This is most likely due to the fact that the wall had been left to its own devices since the Tang (almost 800 years ago from the point of view of the Ming 明, under whom the Yuanshi was compiled) and was therefore almost completely eroded, which is why the Mongols came after China have not encountered an extraordinary structure like the wall (and if they did, then they may not have identified the remains of the wall as such). The Mongols themselves had no interest in building a wall or restoring a wall, because on the one hand there was no longer any threat to the empire from the north (the Mongol empire stretched north and south from Eastern Europe to East Asia) and on the other hand, one could not Wall did not want to obstruct the path to possibly northern retreat areas.

It was only the Ming rulers who developed an extraordinary interest in what had once been started by Qin Shihuangdi, because they had learned from the many years of foreign rule (from the Han onwards the quality of the nomadic invasions had increasingly changed: initially they were only brief forays into the Nomads through Chinese territory, this is how they turned into longer-lasting occupations)[47] learned that in the past the greatest threat always came from the peoples in the north (the rule of the Mongols had almost traumatic effects on the self-image of the Chinese, because they were the first steppe people to prove to be extremely resistant to Chinese influences ). Therefore, the Ming decided, on the advice of their advisors, to restore the bulwark, which was once begun by the first emperor and which was observed over the centuries, but mostly regarded as superfluous, in its entire line (including all branches from the chaotic times) and, moreover, its defensive function to strengthen it by making it a structure built of solid rock. Subsequent attempts by the Mongols, who have recovered from their defeat against the Ming armies far to the north and still retain some military power, to invade Chinese territory again proved that this measure made sense.[48] Large-scale repairs began under Zhu Yuanzhang 朱元璋, the founder of the Ming dynasty (ruled 1368-1399): as early as 1368 he issued the order to General Xu Da 徐達 to restore all ruined pass fortifications along the wall,[49] however, it took another 200 years after the founding of the Ming before what we can still admire today as the Great Wall was created. As evidenced in numerous commemorative writings, stone tablets and other memoranda that could be found on the wall, this seems to be largely attributable to the Emperor Shenzong reg (r. 1573-1620),[50] who found himself in the fortunate position that his government was relatively calm, as the once powerful Mongolian empire had disintegrated due to internal conflicts and large parts of the Mongolian population had gradually found a more sedentary way of life.

But this peace was short-lived. The Ming had already passed the zenith of their rule at this time and factional battles and intrigues at the imperial court caused the spiral of decay to turn faster and faster. This made them easy prey for a new power that had emerged in the northeast: the Manchus. In 1644 the Ming imperial family was smashed and a new dynasty, the Qing Dynasty 清, came into being under the Manchu. Although they were strongly Sinised in cultural terms, they were foreign rulers in China and, like other foreign rulers before, were not interested in the preservation of the Great Wall. The wall again lost its importance as a northern line of defense, not least because the founding of a great Russian empire meant that there was hardly any danger from migrating nomadic tribes from the north and a new threat to the Chinese empire in the south and later in the east: the colonial powers of Europe , America and Japan, which from the 19th century increasingly pushed into the empire from the coasts, and forced the Chinese government to make concessions and concessions through military-technical superiority.

The wall remained in a kind of twilight state until the 1950s when, after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, it became a symbol for all of China, an identification and an expression of former (alleged) cultural and also technical superiority (compared to the Western powers) the focus of the Chinese Communist Party fell (not to mention its propaganda use). In 1952, large-scale restorations of the wall were tackled and several laws were passed that were supposed to guarantee the preservation of the wall (such as a law that forbade people to steal building material from the wall for their own purposes. In the chaotic years of the fall of the Qing, the last ruling house in China (1911), the time of the republic and the civil war, poverty was great and building material scarce, which is why the crumbling sections of the wall were often used by the local population as a material store for building dwellings the great wall of those days reads: The longest quarry in the world.)

4. Location, construction, management, functioning

4.1 Geographical definition [51]

If one wants to describe the course of the wall, one is soon faced with the problem that the wall itself is anything but a homogeneous structure in terms of its extension. Because, as already indicated in the previous chapter, it presents itself to us more as a complicated and widely ramified system of several walls, fortresses and towers, which are the result of the constantly changing balance of power over the many centuries in northern China.

Nevertheless, it is useful to keep the course of the Great Wall in mind, as some conclusions can be drawn from it for the history of its origins.

As the easternmost point and thus the beginning or end of the great wall, the fortress of Shanhaiguan 山海關 in the province of Hebei, near the border with Manchuria, rises into the sky and an inscription that is affixed above the wall opening there is emblazoned , which reads: "The first gate on earth" (天下第一 關 tianxia di yi guan). Strategically located at a narrow point between a mountain range, the Yanshan Mountains, and the coast of the Yellow Sea, on the Gulf of Bohai, was here under the Mingzeitl. General Xu Da (who played a key role in the fall of the Yuan in 1368) started building a so-called fortress, which got its name from the fact that it was built on the slopes of the mountains and offered a view of the nearby sea. But it is not entirely correct to put the beginning (or the end) of the great wall here, since Chinese sources have come down to us from an eastern continuation of the wall, which was called the “willow branch boundary” (柳條 邊 liutiao bian). It was one of the Song rulers towards the end of the 12th century. started "picket fence" made of elms and willow, which circled the city of Shenyang (today's capital of Liaoning Province) in a wide, undulating arc from Shanhaiguan and ran down to the mouth of the Yalu River near the Korean border. This line, once built to protect the Song against the Khitan, was repaired by the Ming as well as most of the great wall, but due to its less stable construction it fell into disrepair relatively quickly and finally disappeared almost completely when the Manchus invaded China around the middle of the 17th century. Today only a few stone steles that were erected along the course of the former “wall” testify to such a line of defense.[52]

From Shanhaiguan, the wall moves in a westerly direction towards Beijing and crosses an area in the north of Hebei Province where the remains of the Yan Principality can still be found at the turn of the 4th to the 3rd century. BC erected earth wall, but also the qin-time wall (which ran in a line further north of the present-day wall) as well as Han-time fortifications. About 60 km north of Beijing, a section of the wall begins, which is also known as "the eastern branch", since the wall is divided into an "outer" and an "inner" wall for the first time here.

The “inner” wall runs in a southern arch starting at the Juyongguan Pass 居庸關, which, due to its proximity, formed the most important strategic access to the capital - evident from the large number and massive size of the fortification towers that had been built by the Ming in this section . Along the northern foothills of the Taihang Mountains into Shanxi Province, the line of the wall at the Wutai Mountains, an area sacred for Buddhists, swings again in a northerly direction and, northeast of the city of Pianguan, reaches the border with the neighboring province of Nei Menggu (Inner Mongolia), where it reunites with the "outer" wall. The latter runs from near Beijing in a northern arc through the Damaqun Mountains to Zhangjiakou, the largest city in the northwest of Hebei Province, then follows the border between the provinces of Inner Mongolia and Shanxi in a south-westerly direction and meets about 30 km to the east of the Yellow River, the Huanghe, back onto the “inner” wall. The northern wall can clearly be traced back to ramparts of the northern Wei (386-534 CE) and the northern Qi (550-577 CE), while the southern wall was built on forerunners of uncertain origin.[53]

The course of the great wall now crosses over to the other bank of the Huanghe, which runs from north to south, and in a more or less interrupted chain crosses an area which in the past repeatedly served the steppe peoples as a gateway for their incursions into Chinese territory: The Ordos area, which the Huanghe flows around in a loop and is now known as the "Ordos Desert". Large parts of this section of the wall fell victim to the forces of erosion there, so that today only numerous signal towers and fortresses point to the former course of the wall. Beginning near Fugu, the wall follows a southwestern line that runs almost parallel to the border between the provinces of Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi. It passes the city of Yulin and turns northwest near Jingbian ("quiet border"), reaches the province of Ningxia and runs on the border line between Ningxia and Inner Mongolia towards the city of Yinchuan, where it again faces the Huanghe , which runs from south to north and begins with its loop around the Ordos area. The entire section of the wall in this area is likely to be traced back to the construction work under the Qin and Han (see Chapter 3), because, for example, in the Hengshan district, near the city of Yulin, remains of ramparts can be found that are assigned to the Qin.[54]

In the past, the Ordos area was famous for its horse wealth and was therefore of great interest to the Chinese rulers at all times, not only because of its strategic location (similar to a tongue that extends far into enemy territory). However, as already indicated above, it was also the gateway and home of various steppe peoples, above all the Xiongnu, who represented a constant threat to the security of the Chinese empire through their raids early on, which is why the conquest and settlement of this area is always a top priority was in military campaigns on the part of the Chinese rulers.[55] In times of peace, however, the area was the scene of an intensive economic and cultural exchange between cultures due to the dense gathering of different peoples.

In the further course the wall line follows the course of the river Huanghe (along the Helan Mountains), but separates from this after entering the province of Gansu and runs as an earth wall made of loess earth, with stone towers erected at regular intervals, north of the Qilian Mountains further (while the Huanghe runs towards the provincial capital Lanzhou).[56]

The area around Lanzhou is of particular interest because it was there that they discovered what is known as the “Qinghai Loop”: a complex system of several interconnected walls, the oldest of which can be traced back to the Qin dynasty (Lintao, Located about 80 km south of Lanzhou, according to the Shiji, was the western end of the "wall" (see Chapter 3). Another wall, which runs north of Lanzhou in a north-westerly direction, can be dated back to the Han period and finally there are 3 Ming period walls that give the whole thing a honeycomb-like structure.[57] This strange arrangement can be explained by the fact that due to its strategic location on the Lanzhou Silk Road, formerly Juncheng, an important traffic and trade hub in this area was early on and it was therefore particularly wanted to protect it.

Following the main line, one reaches another strange section of the wall at Wuwei, which stretches like a narrow loop into the northern Tenger desert and encloses an area that has a dense irrigation network and in the past of great agricultural value seems to have been. Near the city of Yongchang, the wall meets the Qilian Mountains again and runs along the so-called Gansu Corridor in a north-westerly direction towards the Jiayuguan Pass, passing through the cities of Shandan and Zongye. This section, also known as the "Hexi section", is still relatively well preserved today, despite its construction. So today there are still remnants of a wall 7 meters high and 5 meters wide, which was built from rammed earth and reinforced with numerous watch and signal towers (also made from rammed earth). This section is dated towards the end of the 2nd century. BC and would therefore be of Han temporal origin.

Finally, the Ming Age wall ends at Jiayuguan Pass 嘉峪關 near Yumen, where a large fortress was built to guard the pass and to receive and register travelers from the west before they entered the Chinese heartlands. On a gate tower that was demolished in 1928 there was an inscription that read: "The fortified gate of the world" (天下 雄關 tianxia xiongguan).

However, this would not be the actual end of the great wall, because as is documented in the Hanshu (see above) and documented by local finds, it ran in the form of a fortress chain beyond Jiayuguan west to Dunhuang in the Han period,[58] one of the most important Buddhist cave sanctuaries in China, which, due to its exposed location on the western part of the Chinese Silk Road, has been the scene of an intensive cultural and economic exchange between China and the peoples of Inner Asia.

4.2. The construction of the wall

As already in chapter 3.1. mentioned, when using the term “great wall” one must be aware that the term “wall” is associated with a certain idea that only applies to this building to a limited extent. Although it stands opposite us today as a monument made largely of stone, it is only 400 years old in this form and anything but a wall made of solid stone.

The construction principle on which it is based is that of the so-called "pounded loam soil" (填 泥 tian’ni), a traditional construction method,[59] which was also used in Europe for the construction of buildings (terre pisé),[60] in which one filled elongated, upwardly opened wooden boxes with earth or some other filling material and compacted it with a wooden tamper or pestle (築 zhu). These boxes (called 版 ban or 榦 kan) were then finally arranged side by side and on top of each other and thus formed the core, at least when walls were erected.[61] For the outside of the wall, before the Ming period, materials were used that could be found on site at the respective wall section: where the terrain was mountainous, more and more stones were used, which were carved in brick form in workshops near the wall, reinforced in wooded areas the surface of the wall was covered with wood material and in steppe or desert-like areas the wall core was simply buried under several layers of gravel and / or sand. Only the watchtowers and fortresses along the walls were always built first from sun-dried mud bricks (which were easily rotten), and later in the Ming period also from bricks, which were also burned in ovens close to the wall. Any material that could not be provided on site had to be brought in from remote areas.[62] This transport took place in 3 forms: 1. Human load carriers who carried stones, bricks and wood directly or in baskets on their backs, 2. simple transport devices such as wheelbarrows, with which loads of up to 500 kilograms could be transported and 3. pack animals such as donkeys or goats, which could move and climb safely in the sometimes impassable areas.

In addition to the difficulty of mobilizing the resources for the construction of the wall, the long stretches of the heavily mountainous, sometimes rugged terrain presented the builders with other major problems. The course of the wall had to be adapted to the slope of the natural terrain and, for this purpose, entire ridges had to be straightened or even foundations created using stone slabs. The fact that, despite the difficult structural engineering measures, the decision was made to build the wall on a steep mountain ridge, for example, may be due to the fact that a steep mountain ridge was already viewed as a natural obstacle that was difficult to overcome and it was believed that it would be impossible to overcome, if still a wall would be built on it. Another remarkable feature of the wall is that the construction of the wall always adhered to the geographical conditions, insofar as one always tried to avoid natural obstacles such as large boulders, steep walls and the like. to involve.

As far as the construction of the Ming period wall is concerned, von Möllendorf made a classification according to which he claims to have recognized four different wall types according to the construction types:[63] 1. As a rule, two brick walls were built on a stone foundation about 6 meters wide, the space between them being filled with various materials, in particular clay, stones, wood and pieces of brick.[64] The top of the wall, like the outer walls, was made of bricks and covered on two sides with tiled parapets, so that the total height averaged 6 to 8 meters. 2. This type of wall was less wide and high than the first type, but was entirely bricked and only had a parapet at the top of the wall. 3. Long stretches of the third type of wall consisted only of heaped stone rubble[65] and the fourth type only consists of an upwardly tapering clay wall of approx. 4 to 5 meters in height. What these four types of wall were or is in common are the four-sided waiting areas and towers that are regularly erected depending on the subsurface.

4.3. Military organization and the functioning of the great wall [66]

Since the great wall was intended as a line of defense against the northern “barbarians”, it was under the administration of the war ministry in the capital, whose leadership was appointed directly by the emperor. In the event of war, this ministry acted as commander-in-chief of the defense armies along the wall, unless the emperor had entrusted this task to someone else or had gone into battle himself. In order to make it easier for the ministry to manage and coordinate the armed forces, nine so-called "military section commands", 鎮 zhen, were set up. The Mingshi says:[67] “Starting with the Yalu River in the east, to Jiayu (-guan) in the west, 10,000 li in an uninterrupted chain, the area was divided up for defense purposes. First, four zhen were established in Liaodong, Xuanfu, Datong, and Yansui. These were followed by the three zhen of Ningxia, Gansu and Jizhou, while the military governor of Taiyuan led the administration of Piantou and the administration of the three borders was established in Guyuan. They were referred to as two (more) zhen, so that there were a total of nine zhen. ”These section commands were commanded by generals who had their headquarters in a city near the wall or in strategically important fortresses, were directly subordinate to the Minister of War and with the Coordination of defense in the event of war. In peacetime, however, they were subordinate to “governors-general” who were treated as equivalent to a civil provincial governor or a minister of the central government, whose tasks included overseeing the construction work along the wall and directing the training of the troops. As for the individual zhen, they could be divided into so-called sub-commands, the lu, each of which was headed by a site commander. As you can see, the administration of the wall was based on a very decentralized system in which both military and civil authorities had to work hand in hand, which required a well-developed and functioning communication system. For this purpose, the numerous forts, the smallest permanently inhabited fortifications of the wall,[68] Signal towers from which widely visible smoke signals were sent out during the day (therefore also known as smoke towers) and fire signals at night, which could, for example, warn the hinterland of an approaching enemy force and alert troops stationed there. In addition to this “vertical” message transmission, there was a “horizontal” one, because as already mentioned in a previous chapter, fortifications with such signal towers were found at regular intervals (meaning: always in view) everywhere along the wall (also apart from one another) the wall line), so that a message could quickly be carried to the vicinity of the capital Beijing (Peking) and the central government could react quickly. The whole system was completed by mounted messengers and foot runners[69] and its importance is confirmed by several decrees (such as a decree of the eunuch Cheng Hua from 1446: "The signal towers and their crews must be checked regularly. There must be ample supplies and the peep outposts must be manned at all times. In case of danger, be during the day Smoke signals, fire signals at night to relay the alarm. Care must be taken not to damage the towers to ensure they are always operational. Those who get the news across quickly and help destroy the enemy will be rewarded Offenders will be punished according to military law. ")[70]

Another pillar of the defense system were the many defense towers and bastions, which had been set up at intervals of 100 to 200 m and were intended to offer protection to the guards patrolling the top of the wall on their tours and to defend against minor attacks.[71] A disadvantage, however, was that the 2 to 3-story defense towers served as lounges for the guards as well as storage for weapons and ammunition, which made them very worthwhile targets.

Inside and outside the Great Wall there were other, mutually dependent defensive facilities, such as forts, fortified camps, control rooms, etc., which served the troops as accommodation and traveling traders on the one hand and the local population as shelters or places of refuge on the other. Luo Zewen concludes his description of how the wall works with the following sentence: “All these seemingly self-contained and self-contained systems were in reality part of an artfully knotted network that made the Great Wall not only unique, but probably also the largest Defense system of mankind. ”(Luo (1991c): p. 153) With regard to its extension, Luo may be right in his conclusion with regard to the wall, but it is doubtful whether the wall, despite the above-described administration of its intended function as“ largest defense system ”. From a purely historical point of view, one would have to negate this assessment: the incursions of the steppe peoples of the north into southern China were too numerous and successful, so that one can hardly speak of an effective border defense.[72] But this was not a fault of the wall itself, because such incursions always took place when the government of the Chinese Empire was weak and the Chinese became aware of this over time.

But if your purpose was not directly to defend the border, why were walls built, repaired and expanded over and over again? In the literature that I have been able to survey so far, two positions emerge on this question. One position, as represented by von Möllendorf, for example, says that the erection of a wall or a wall seemed like a miracle to the "uncultivated" and technically low-level steppe peoples and therefore had a considerable influence on their morale must have.[73] The other position embraces this opinion, but goes beyond it. Accordingly, the wall served as a demarcation line that separated two completely different ways of life: the sedentary, agricultural culture of the Chinese south of the wall, and the wandering, cattle-raising culture of the nomads north of the wall.[74] The wall played a role in two respects: On the one hand, it should make it clear to the nomads where a culturally and technically superior way of life began, and on the other hand, it should make it clear to the Chinese where this cultivated way of life ended (Geil writes: “Possibly then, the Wall had the message to those beyond the boundary, 'Keep out!' And to those within, 'Stay here!' ").[75] I would like to put these positions into perspective, however, because 1. the nomads were not in the least impressed by the imposing appearance of the building and tried to invade Chinese territory incessantly, as the dynasty histories numerous prove, and 2. the wall was not fixed forever The demarcation line from the beginning was because its "overall course" (in relation to the various smaller walls) had changed several times in the long history. In addition, there was a flourishing of trade between the neighboring peoples along the wall, so that it seems utterly impossible to me that there should not have been any cultural mixing or technical transfer.

I myself take another, somewhat different view, according to which it only had a limited defensive function, but at least it gave the Chinese a deceptive feeling of security, superiority and prosperity. Joseph Needham finally comes to a more conciliatory assessment of the wall with regard to its intended function. He writes: “As to the effectiveness of the Great Wall in keeping out the troops of nomadic horsemen, it was probably considerable. Any breaking-down of the wall, or building ramps up to it, would allow time for the arrival of Chinese reinforcements. " (Needham (1954): p. 55).

5. The wall in the mirror of reflections

As already mentioned in Chapter 1, it is interesting to observe that up to now hardly anyone has dealt exhaustively with the Great Wall itself - hardly in China and all the less in the West. The reasons for this are likely to be both numerous and varied, so it is not all that easy to put together a kind of "reception story" of the Great Wall.

In the Chinese consciousness, the wall seemed to have played only a subordinate role at all times, as hardly anything has come down to us from the sources, above all the dynasty stories, and what we have at our disposal is more of a technical character. One of the reasons for this is probably to be found in the historiography, which was shaped by Confucianism, which always claimed to want to reproduce historical truths neutrally and objectively, but never fully lived up to this creed.

So it is not surprising that with regard to the great wall, as one of the monumental projects tackled by the Qin, hardly a positive word can be found, since many Confucian scholars were largely in a poor position under the legal rulers (see above e.g. a report in Shiji, according to which the first emperor, on the advice of his chancellor, had 460 scholars executed by burying them alive).[76] And the burdens that were imposed on the people by labor were largely a thorn in the eyes of Confucian historians and other scholars. After all, the wall found its way into the consciousness of the general population as a negative, as it is presented to us in the many legends and ballads that entwine around the wall.[77]

This perspective did not change much until modern times, because even if the wall enjoyed a high level of interest from the rulers at times, it was often the common people who suffered from the effects of this interest. This negative image only changed fundamentally at the beginning of the 20th century, but especially with the founding of the People's Republic of China, from where the wall was able to gain significant prestige as a national monument that promotes identification (see also Chapter 3.3). Today the wall enjoys a high degree of popularity in China, because in addition to this identification function, a multi-million dollar tourism industry has emerged in its shadow over the last few decades, which has helped the Chinese government to generate additional income from foreign currency and some small entrepreneurs to modest wealth. And the local population has also benefited from the “commercialization” of the wall in recent years: for years it has offered many people on both sides of the wall an additional source of income in addition to their meager income by selling souvenirs such as postcards and T-shirts , ambush the unsuspecting tourists and engage in (black) trade.[78]

The reception of the wall in the west took place differently than in China, from a more positive and euphoric conception of the wall to a more negative and critical one, to ultimately lead to a neutral and objectifying one.

The beginnings of the western history of the reception of the wall are already sought in Roman antiquity, where in a book by the historian Marcelinus (lived in the 2nd half of the 4th century AD), the Rerum Gestarum, of a country called Serica, which is covered by a continuous Barrier be surrounded, the talk is. Since researchers like Sir Henry Yule appeared too soon to mention a wall of China,[79] one tried to imagine this barrier only as a high mountain range. But much seems to indicate that the Roman historian actually spoke of a wall, as Silverberg (1966) tried to explain. This opinion was supported by the fact that Marcelinus had served as a soldier along the Roman eastern border in Persia against the Parthians, the Parthian rulers already had diplomatic relations with China, and so Marcelinus had heard of a wall surrounding the Chinese Empire could.[80]

The early Middle Ages also reported a wall that was finally erected in the 14th century. as the Great Wall of China wanted to have identified. They relied on the Alexander legend, a 300 CE. A novel edited in Alexandria, which was distributed under the name of Alexander's historiographer Kallisthenes (around 370 - 327 BC) (hence also called Pseudo-Kallisthenes), in which Alexander drove the two biblical evils Gog and Magog far to the east, where they fell behind withdrew an iron barrier erected by the “divine hand”, entered into alliances with the “22 barbarians” and, since the 4th century. pushed west again with their supporters in order to subdue the world (perhaps this is how one tried to explain the events surrounding the migration of the peoples. At least one brings this story into the context of the theory that the building of the wall was an impetus for the The migration of peoples was said to have taken place in that the Xiongnu, who lived in the steppes of Central Asia, were pushed along the wall line to the west, pushing the peoples living there like a roller in front of them). Needham writes: "As de Goeje (= de Goes. See below) maintained long ago, there can hardly be any doubt that this legendary engineering work [...] was an echo of the real Great Wall itself."[81]

But in all these mentions the line between fiction and reality blurred and mostly it was pure speculation, so that it was only with the discovery of the sea route to China by the Portuguese and the missionaries working in China in the 16th century. can speak of a real reception of the Great Wall on the part of the West.[82]

As an early portrayal of the Great Wall, Jonathan Fryer (1975: p.164) to a certain Joao de Barros, who, although he had never been to China, based on translated Chinese sources and letters from the soldiers of the first Portuguese expedition to China (1514-21), surprisingly precise information on the position, location, course and length of the great Mauer, which made his work a reference work for later descriptions. The best-known book about China at the time by Juan Gonzalez Mendoza, an Augustinian monk, based his portrayal of the wall on the information given by Barros and, due to its euphoric mood, made the Great Wall of China a fascinating sight to become the European.

The first credible eyewitness accounts came from the Jesuit missionaries towards the end of the 16th to the beginning of the 18th century, namely from Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), Benedikt de Goes and finally Jean-Baptist Regis, who was commissioned by the Chinese in 1708 Kaisers led a 10-year expedition whose aim was to give the most accurate possible cartographic representation of the wall.[83]