From the millitary point of view, the effectiveness of Great Wall in the northern front of Qin and Han, generally speaking, is to utilize its wall, trench,beacon etc. and other advantages like readiness, to gain initiative in battle.
Interesting, if this is so, would not the invaders, having invaded and occupied the walls, utilise this initiative for their attacks too? The walls, whether you are "inside" or "outside" (relative to your position) has no front or back.I think it is next to impossible for horses to run on full speed on the wall due to it being built on mountains
It is impossible for horses to be deployed at certain sections of the Great Wall, not to mention horses running at full speed or trotter speed. Some sections of the walls are so steep that even soldiers find it difficult to climb. And I am talking about those sections of the great wall at badaling open to the public. I almost fainted trying to climb one section i believe more than 50 degrees and also if you feared heights that's double the difficulty. There is no wall a horse can climb that kind of steep steps (some steps are more than a foot high, and less than a 150 mm deep (thread).
Most of the Ming Wall is built on treacherous terrain, mountainous and some walls are virtually built on cliffs! This part of the walls, it is no use having cavalry to invade Chinese territory, because you can't ride your horses up to those terrain, but you could if you deploy infantry, but they got to be the fittest people you can find, because, after breaching the walls (if you succeeded) you got to negotiate the wrenched terrain on the other side!
The design of the walls are primarily for military defense anyway. The idea of the wall is to separate or divide, and that's the main purpose i believe, but if you see those parts of the walls perched high up the mountain ridges, you wonder if it is an important element in keeping out invaders and protecting your territory.
My take? It is very, damned important, and i say this only looking at the Ming walls. The way they are constructed, the materials, the scale and the massiveness of it all, it really reflect the kind of danger and peril China was facing "on the other side" (eg. Mongols hordes). Really, the magnificent walls is also tantamount to magnificient fear / threat / peril. It must be, surely. Look at your house, you can build a low fence to demarcate your land, or build a 1.5 metre fence to keep off dogs, or build a 2 metre fence to block your neighbours looking in, and put up metal wires at the top of the fence to deter thieves scaling over it. Each type of walls depends on what your purpose is, for the Ming Great Wall, it definitely is for protection and military defence against a very potent enemy, it surely is, because no one in the right frame of mind would construct and undertake such a labour intensive and money draining massive project just to keep off a few mad men on wild horses, yeah?
Edited by Prince of the South, 08 October 2006 - 11:53 PM.