The Forgotten Walls of China?

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.

The “Lost” Great Wall of China?

Contrary to popular opinion, the Great Wall of China wasn’t built all at once. Construction on various walls to keep out Mongol invaders began as early as the 7th century BC. Over the ensuing centuries, more walls were built. The current standing wall was largely restored from earlier versions during the Ming Dynasty.

The Lost Great Wall of China?

Due to the nature of its construction, scholars have long suspected the existence of “lost” sections of the Great Wall of China. And now, thanks to an international expedition along with Google Earth, one of those lost sections has been located…in the Gobi Desert…and interestingly enough, outside China’s current borders. Here’s more on the lost Great Wall of China from National Geographic:

A forgotten section of the Great Wall of China has been discovered deep in the Gobi Desert—and outside of China—researchers say. With the help of Google Earth, an international expedition documented the ancient wall for roughly 100 kilometers (62 miles) in a restricted border zone in southern Mongolia in August 2011.

The defensive barrier formed part of the Great Wall system built by successive Chinese dynasties to repel Mongol invaders from the north, according to findings published in the March issue of the Chinese edition of National Geographic magazine.

Preserved to a height of 9 feet (2.75 meters) in places, the desert discovery belongs to a sequence of remnant walls in Mongolia collectively known as the Wall of Genghis Khan, said expedition leader and Great Wall researcher William Lindesay

(See National Geographic for more on the lost Great Wall of China)

A New Human Species…in China?

As early as 11,500 years ago, a strange group of people lived in China’s Red Deer Cave and Longlin Cave.

The Mysterious Red Deer Cave People?

These people, referred to as the Red Deer Cave people, are believed to be a separate species of Homo – possibly the last such species on Earth, next to modern man. Here’s more from New Scientist on the Red Deer Cave people:

And so it begins. For years, evolutionary biologists have predicted that new human species would start popping up in Asia as we begin to look closely at fossilised bones found there. A new analysis of bones from south-west China suggests there’s truth to the forecast.

…What’s more, Curnoe and Ji Xueping of Yunnan University, China, have found more evidence of the new hominin at a second site – Malu cave in Yunnan Province. Curnoe has dubbed the new group the Red Deer Cave people because of their penchant for venison. “There is evidence that they cooked large deer in Malu cave,” he says.

(See New Scientist for more on the Red Deer Cave people)

Celtic Mummies…in China?

It looks like ancient Celtic warriors traveled miles past Europe’s boundaries…thousands of miles in fact…all the way to China’s mysterious Taklamakan Desert.

Did Ancient Celtic Warriors go to China?

The ancient Celts were a group of tribal societies that existed during the Iron Age and Medieval Europe. At its peak, the Celtic tribes encompassed a vast loosely-connected empire that covered the British Isles, France, Poland, Central Europe, and parts of Italy. But while Celtic warriors lived across a large amount of land, they never went past Anatolia, or modern Turkey. Or did they?

Here’s more from The Independent on the mystery of China’s Celtic warriors:

Solid as a warrior of the Caledonii tribe, the man’s hair is reddish brown flecked with grey, framing high cheekbones, a long nose, full lips and a ginger beard. When he lived three thousand years ago, he stood six feet tall, and was buried wearing a red twill tunic and tartan leggings. He looks like a Bronze Age European. In fact, he’s every inch a Celt. Even his DNA says so.

But this is no early Celt from central Scotland. This is the mummified corpse of Cherchen Man, unearthed from the scorched sands of the Taklamakan Desert in the far-flung region of Xinjiang in western China, and now housed in a new museum in the provincial capital of Urumqi. In the language spoken by the local Uighur people in Xinjiang, “Taklamakan” means: “You come in and never come out.”

The extraordinary thing is that Cherchen Man was found – with the mummies of three women and a baby – in a burial site thousands of miles to the east of where the Celts established their biggest settlements in France and the British Isles…

(See The Independent for more on China’s mysterious Celtic warriors)

What’s Inside an Ancient Chinese Tomb?

Recently, archaeologists unearthed a Zhou Dynasty tomb in China’s Henan Province. What did they find inside this 3,000 year old grave?

What was the Western Zhou Dynasty?

The Zhou Dynasty was the longest lasting dynasty in Chinese history. Historians believe it began in 1046 BC and lasted until 256 BC. However, the ruling Jī family only wielded military and political control over China from 1046 BC to 771 BC, a period which is often referred to as the Western Zhou Dynasty. It was marked by the introduction of iron, impressive bronzeware, and the evolution of Chinese script into its modern form.

Recently, while constructing a hospital in Luoyang, workers discovered underground structures. Archaeologists excavated the area and unearthed a perfectly-preserved tomb dating back to the Western Zhou Dynasty. They consider it “the most complete find of any tomb of its era.” So, what did they find inside it?

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The excavation unveiled numerous pits. Some of these pits contained pottery, copper weapons, jade objects, and bronzeware. However, these finds paled in comparison to the main pit where archaeologists uncovered the remains of five wooden chariots and twelve dead horses. Although the chariots have rotted away, the ash residue remains as you can see in the pictures at the links above. The horse skeletons were found lying on their sides, indicating that they were probably killed before burial.

The tomb probably belonged to a mid-level official. In life, he was most likely of limited importance. But in death, he and his tomb are providing valuable insight into funeral customs as well as other aspects of the Western Zhou dynasty.