How Did The Great Wall Of China Impact The Silk Road?

How Did The Great Wall Of China Impact The Silk Road?

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When most people think about China, they think about the Great Wall of China and the Silk Road. Over the centuries, the Great Wall of China and the Silk Road worked together to help bring trade to China.

The Great Wall of China helped protect many ancient traders along the Chinese Silk Road routes. The Great Wall was set up to protect China from a northern invasion, whereas the Silk Road opened up China to trade with the rest of the world, particularly with the Middle East and Europe.

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The Great Wall Of China And The Silk Road

We cannot underestimate the importance of the Great Wall in the evolution of the Silk Road. The Silk Road is the famous trade route that many ancient traders, such as Marco Polo, used to reach and trade with China.

The Silk Road helped to ensure that China had a dominant presence in the Asia region while at the same time acting as a transmitter of ideas, religion, and art; Buddhism came to China through the silk road.

The Great Wall of China was set up to keep China safe and protect China and Chinese territory from unwanted invaders, particularly from the North. The Great Wall was set up as a barrier of protection for China.

The Silk Road and Great Wall were essential aspects of China’s history but had different functions and reasons for existence. The Great Wall protected China and Chinese territory from invaders, mainly from the North.

The Silk Road was how the ancient traders came to trade with China overland from the Middle East or Europe; Chinese traders used the Silk Road to leave China and travel to India and the rest of the world.

Along the way, the Great Wall also helped act as a gate of entry into China and helped to give many of the Silk Road traders protection along their route.

The Great Wall And The Harsh Travel Along The Silk Road

Traders worldwide joined caravans on the Silk Road to try to discover their luck in trading with China.

In the ancient days, when the caravans traveled along the silk road, bandits wanted to steal from those caravans. Additionally, parts of the silk road were extraordinarily harsh and brutal to travel.

Marco Polo said this about his travel along the silk road and the waste desert:

There is a marvelous thing related to this desert which is that when travelers are on the move by night, and one them chances to lag behind or fall asleep … when he tries to gain his company again he will hear spirits talking, and will suppose them to be his own comrades. Sometimes the spirits will call him by name; and thus shall a traveler oft-times be led astray so that he never finds his party … Sometimes the stray traveler will hear as it were the tramp and hum of great cavalcade of people away from the real line of roada and taking this to be their own company they will follow the sound and when day breaks find that a cheat has been put on them and that they are in an ill plight. Even in the daytime one hears those spirits talking. And sometimes you hear the sound of a variety of musical iinstruments and still more commonly the sound of drums. Hence in making this journey ’tis customary for travelers to keep close together. All the animals too have bells at their necks, so that they cannot easily get astray. And at sleeping time a signal is put to show the direction of the next march. So thus it is the desert is cross.”


As Marco Polo mentioned, some of the crossings on the silk road were so brutal and difficult that fellow travelers would get lost, never to be heard of again. On top of this, bandits also tried to rob the traders and take the goods and money they had.

The Silk Road route was so brutal and difficult to travel; we do not know how many traders were lost, never to be heard of again.

Portions of the Great Wall of China were constructed to try to help to protect the Silk Road routes and traders. Not just from the bandits that came to rob them but also to give them a sense of protection until they could safely leave Chinese territory.

The Great Wall And Protection Of The Silk Road Routes

Even in these early days, China understood that if they wanted to trade their goods with the world, they would need to offer some protection to the trade routes within Chinese territory.

Here are some ways that the Great Wall helped to protect the Silk Road trade routes and increased China’s worldwide influence:

  • Increased Chinese Influence – The Great Wall protection and the Silk Road routes helped cement China’s presence and influence throughout Asia.
  • Defended The Trade Routes – The Great Wall helped protect the Silk Road trade routes.
  • Brought In A Successful Trade Of Goods – The protection of the Great Wall along the Silk Road trade routes allowed the traders to bring in various goods and products. Silk was not the only thing traded but also ivory, gold, precious stones, ceramics, jade, animals, and even plants.
  • Brought Innovation Between East And West – The silk road brought innovation and ideas between the East and West. Religions such as Buddhism were known to come through the silk road routes.

All of these things would not have happened without the protection of the Great Wall of China in helping many of the ancient traders as they brought their goods into China.

Many of the traders did not enter China but would sell their goods to a Chinese middle man who would then bring them into China; others traveled into Chinese territory to trade their goods. The further into China these traders traveled, the more exorbitant the goods would get.

Foreign traders such as Marco Polo were known to travel to Beijing. The journey took them 3 or 4 years and was very challenging and dangerous.

To learn more about the Great Wall, you can read our blogs:

Which Sea Lies At One End Of The Great Wall Of China? by clicking here.
Are There Dead Bodies Inside The Great Wall Of China? by clicking here.
How Much Does The Great Wall Of China Weigh? by clicking here.

About The Silk Road

My Grandfather Dr. Arthur W Hummel, wrote one of the best histories of the silk road I have ever read. Dr. Hummel was a well-known Chinese scholar for the Library of Congress.

I recently read an article he wrote about the Chinese Silk Road in her papers. This paper gives a lot of insights and information on the Silk Road that I have not seen anywhere else.

You can read the paper by Dr. Arthur W. Hummel and the Silk Road by clicking on the link below.

The Silk Road and The Great Wall are two essential parts of China’s history and trade with the world. The Silk Road brought products and goods out of China into the west and also brought products and goods into China. The Silk Road helped bring art and religion into China and changed Chinese culture.

The Great Wall helped act as a barrier to protect the Silk Road traders and their trade routes and Chinese territory.

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How Much Does The Great Wall Of China Weigh?

If you calculate the approximate number of bricks and the weight of each of those, the Great Wall of China would weigh over 50,000,000 tons. The Great Wall is considered the heaviest continuous structure on the face of the earth. As so many bricks were used to build the wall, if you put all the bricks side by side, it would go around the equator about 36 times.

By clicking here, you can discover How Much Does The Great Wall Of China Weigh?.

Are There Dead Bodies Inside The Great Wall Of China?

Bodies would not have been buried right into the wall, but they could have been buried in the earth near and even under the wall. They would not have put them right into the wall, as it would have caused structural damage when the bodies decomposed. The bodies are probably buried right by the wall, under some stone and other slabs.

You can learn more by reading Are There Dead Bodies Inside The Great Wall Of China? by clicking here.

How Long Did It Take to Build the Whole Great Wall of China?

The Great Wall of China took over 2,000 years to build. The building span many Chinese Dynasties for about 22 centuries. The construction of the wall ended in the Ming Dynasty in 1644. The Great Wall is one of the most significant human-made construction projects globally; the Great Wall is over 21,196 kilometers or 13,171 miles. There are over 25,000 watchtowers scattered throughout the Great Wall structure.

To know more about How Long Did It Take to Build the Whole Great Wall of China? by clicking here.

Anita L Hummel
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