The Great Wall of China isn’t really a single wall. Instead, it’s a catchall term to describe the many fortifications built in China over the last ~2,700 years. Recently, archaeologists finished a 5-year project to map these structures. What are the Forgotten Great Walls of China?
The Forgotten Great Walls of China?
China’s first walls sprouted up around the 7th century BC, probably to keep Mongol invaders at bay. Many additional walls have been built over the years and some of them have been linked together. The wall most commonly associated with “The Great Wall of China” is actually a series of structures which were restored during the Ming Dynasty.
Recently, China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping completed a 5-year archaeological survey of China. Back in 2009, surveyors had estimated the total length of the Great Wall of China at about 5,500 miles. Now, Xinhua, China’s government-owned news agency, is reporting the completion of the survey. The wall’s total length has been updated…to 13,170.6956 miles!
Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis
That’s a lot of walls. But don’t get too excited. Most of these “forgotten” structures are gone. Only the remnants remain. Even the famed Ming Dynasty wall is just a shell of its former self. Only 8.2% of it still stands. And 75% of its surviving sections are extremely dilapidated. Also, some of the walls run parallel to each other. And many of them aren’t so much walls as “earthworks or ditches.”
Interestingly enough, the 13,170 mile figure might still be low. China’s borders have shifted dramatically over the centuries. Back in March, we reported on the discovery of a “lost” section of the Great Wall of China in the Gobi Desert…outside of China’s current borders. Are there more walls out there, waiting to be found? Only time will tell.