...and why they all failed!

Since the dawn of civilization, people have build fences to keep enemies out and captives in. Since the dawn of time, all fences have failed. The most famous of these fences took the form of walls, strong enough to withstand rocks and sometimes bombs, but not strong enough to keep people from crossing them. Here are the Seven Fence Wonders Of The World, and how they failed.

Great Wall of China

Once thought to be the only man-made structure that can be seen from space, the Great Wall of China was built and maintained between the 5th century BC and the 16th century. The Great Wall was a fence to keep out the invading Mongols. The Great Wall of China failed, as eventually the Mongol tribes took over China and the rest of Asia.

The Great Wall stretches over approximately 4,000 miles, or 6,400 km from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Nur in the west. Parts have been rebuilt and serve as a major Chinese tourist attraction today.

It has been estimated that somewhere in the range of 2 to 3 million Chinese died as part of the centuries-long project of building the wall.

United States / Mexico Barrier

The United States–Mexico barrier, also known as the Texas Border Fence, was designed to prevent illegal immigrants coming over from the U.S.-Mexico border. Improverished immigrants from Mexico and Central American countries try to cross the border hoping for a better future for their children. Many still cross the border, so this fence is not a total success.

The fence spans areas where the most concentrated numbers of illegal crossings have been observed on the 1,951 mile (3,141 km) border between the United States and Mexico. As of August 29, 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has built a total of 344 miles of fence.

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall is a stone and turf fence that was built across northern England in 122 AD by the Roman Empire following a visit by Emperor Hadrian. The fence was to mark the extent of the Roman Empire. It was built to prevent raids on Roman Britain by the local tribes to the north. It was the most heavily guarded frontier in the Roman Empire. This fence was also a failure, as it was often raided, although it did mark the frontier for many years.

Later, the Antonine Wall was built in 142 AD further to the north. It was meant to replace Hadrian's Wall, but that did not last long.

In its time Hadrian's Wall was 117 kilometres long with its width and height being varied over the course of the entire wall. The width and height were dependent upon the construction materials that were available nearby. Today, very little remains of the fence, which would not be much protection.

"Fear is the highest fence." - Dudley Nichols

Walls of Jericho

If the Walls of Jericho sound familiar to you it is because they were prominently mentioned in Bible, specifically in the Book of Joshua - "the fabled Walls of Jericho".

Jericho was the most important Canaanite fortress city at the time. It's misfortune was to be directly in the path of the Israelites, who had just advanced across the Jordan River. This was perhaps the most famous failed fence in the world.

According to the Bible (Joshua 5:13-6:27) the Battle of Jericho was the first battle of the ancient Children of Israel, about 40 years after their exodus from Egypt. It was the first landmark step they took to claim their Holy Land, and arguably one of the most famous Bible stories.

During the battle they circled the Walls of Jericho seven times under the leadership of Joshua until the walls came tumbling down to the tune of seven trumpets blown by the Hebrew priests.

Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall was erected to separate West Berlin from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) of East Germany for more than 25 years. Its construction began 16 years after World War II on August 13, 1961.

The Berlin Wall was the most visible symbol of the iron curtain that kept people from fleeing communist oppression, not just between Germanies, but also from other east-central European countries like Poland and Hungary.

The separation lasted only for a while, until November 9, 1989, when the East German government announced that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin for the first time. Crowds of East Germans climbed onto and crossed the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere.

The video below captures the raw euphoria at the wall, as the first fissure is created and the first man steps through the wall. The jubilation when this fence failed was felt around the world.

The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on October 3, 1990. Most importantly, the demolition of the Berlin Wall signalled the end of the cold war and the arrival of democracy across central and eastern Europe.

Dingo Fence

The world's longest fence, the Dingo Fence, was built in Australia during the 1880s. It stretches 5,320 kilometre or 3,306 miles, from Jimbour on the Darling Downs near Dalby through thousands of miles of arid country to the Eyre peninsula on the Great Australian Bight. This is visually a fence in the way we typically picture one.

The fence was designed to protect Queensland sheep flocks, however it was only partly successful as dingoes (wild Australian dogs) can still be found in parts of southern Australia.

Peace Lines

The Peace Lines are a series of separation barriers ranging in length from a few hundred yards to over 5 kilometres, or 3 miles. The barriers are made from a combination of iron, brick, concrete and steel topped off with a chain link fence.

The Peace Line was designed to separate the Catholics from the Protestants in neighbourhoods like Belfast, Derry and elsewhere in Northern Ireland. In that many skirmishes that might have occured have been prevented, the Peace Lines are a success. In that fighting continues, they were destined to fail from the start.

Originally only a few in number, the Peace Lines have grown to over 40 separate barriers today that stretch a total of 21 kilometres, or 13 miles. The majority of the Peace Lines are located in Belfast.

"Good fences make good neighbors." - Robert Frost


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