Album: By Country | By Date China | July 2001 < Prev Image | The Great Wall | Next Image >
Travelogue: By Country | By Date China | July 2001  


Along the wall are towers, offset to the attackers' side slightly. The idea was to get a clearer shot at bad guys who might try to climb the wall with ladders. Shih huang-ti built the wall to protect his kingdom from the Hsiung-nu. The Hsiung-nu, historically speaking, are a curious people. They first appear in Chinese historical records about the 5th century BC and disappear from the records in about the 5th century AD. Some historians believe they were the Huns,who invaded the Roman Empire in the 5th century. The Hsiung-nu became a real threat to China after the 3rd century BC, when they formed a far-flung tribal confederation under a ruler known as the shan-yü, the rough equivalent of the Chinese emperor's designation as the t'ien-tzu ("son of heaven"). They ruled over a territory that extended from western Manchuria (Northeast Provinces) to the Pamirs and covered much of present Siberia and Mongolia. The Hsiung-nu were fierce mounted warriors who were able to muster as many as 300,000 horseback archers on their periodic intrusions into North China, and they were more than a match for the much less maneuverable chariots of the Chinese. The completion of the Great Wall along the whole of China's northern frontier during the Ch'in dynasty (221-206 BC) slowed but did not stop the Hsiung-nu.

© Monica & Mark Hughes 2000-02