Archaeologists Have Discovered the Great Wall of China Was Once Even Longer

The newly discovered section is right where documents said it would be.

The Great Wall of China. Photo: James Stuart Griffith, courtesy Fotolia.
The Great Wall of China. Photo: James Stuart Griffith, courtesy Fotolia.

While one Chinese college is building a replica of the Great Wall of China (see University Ridiculed for Building $650,000 “Fake Wall Of China”), archaeologists hard at work studying the genuine article have recently discovered nine new sections of the ancient architectural marvel.

The 6.2-mile-long stretch of ruins was found in northern China, on the border of the Gansu province and Ningxia region. Historical documents had been found that ordered construction of a fortification to run through those areas as well as inner Mongolia.

Built during the Qin dynasty, over 2,000 years ago, this latest find is the first physical evidence of the wall’s greater length.

“Finally, we’re able to see the whole picture of the Qin Great Wall,” Zhou Xinghua, who led the expedition and formerly curated the Museum of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, told the Xinhua news agency.

The best-known section of the Great Wall dates from the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), but sections were believed to have been built as early as the 7th century BC. The Ming Wall is roughly 5,500 miles long, but archaeologists now believe that the full length of the structure was originally an even more massive 13,170 miles long.

The stone ruins of the Qin wall may have once been as much as 20 feet tall, but have been dramatically eroded over the centuries and are now as low as three feet in some areas.

Chinese’s ancient cultural sites recently received a boost from Los Angeles’ Getty Conservation Institute, which is working with China’s Dunhuang Academy to preserve the ancient Buddhist caves known as the Mogao Grottoes, carved out of cliffs in the Gobi Desert (see The Getty Helps Save China’s Mogao Grottoes from Tourists).


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