Ordinary people know that the Great Wall of China is (1) the biggest man-made military structure in the world, (2) built for a very long time, (3) and the latest theme to Matt Damon's fantasy film. However, a relative few history buffs could make an educated guess when the building started and ended, let alone guess who made it.
The Great Wall of China was built by 5 ruling dynasties. It was a project that was 2,200 years in the making. These were the imperial ancestries that sponsored the completion of China's most popular tourist site.
This dynasty was one of the longest-running rulers of the Chinese state of Qi. The building of the Great Wall was intended to repel the ancient Mongols and Manchurians off their northern borders. From 770 BC, their reign ended 221 BC following their defeat in the hands of the Qin during the Warring States period.
During the reign of the first Qin emperor (Qin Shih Huang Di), the territory we now know as China is already under his reign. Hence, all unified states bore his namesake. As an emperor consolidating his power, the northern barbarians continue to pester his borders with their ceaseless incursions. The building of the Great Wall extended from Qi state westward to the Gansu province.
The Han dynasty ruled for over 420 years following the fall of the Qin dynasty. As one of the 5 ruling dynasties in China, the Han was credited for sponsoring Confucianism and initiating the westward trade links of the Silk Road. They also extended the building of the Great Wall to protect these distant western borders from bandits.
It was only until the expulsion of the Mongol Yuan rulers that the attention to continuing the Great Wall of China resumed. From 1368 to 1644, the emperors of the Ming Dynasty connected the western leg of the Great Wall built by the Hans with the eastern part built by the Qin.
The Qing dynasty that traced its ancestry from the Manchurians was credited for officially ending the further improvement or expansion of the Great Wall. From then on, it remains China's most popular tourist site.
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