Fortis Facere

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You might remember learning about the Indus Valley Civilization from when it made an appearance in our piece entitled Evolution of Journalism – some cities in this civilization decided to construct primitive walls to fend off equally primitive attacks. The Mycenaean culture was also keen on this strategy of defense. But, as time went on, combat style changed which modified attack frequency and effectiveness of attacks. Successful cities became metropolises which made them targets for more ruthless attacks from increasingly advanced outsiders. Wall technology, therefore, became crucial for metropolis growth.

‍Walls became so strategically important that there are a handful of world-famous examples that you’ve probably heard of. Ground was broken on the Great Wall of China in 600 B.C. along the northern border of the Chinese states, and continued to be renovated over the millenia. Hadrian built the Roman Wall, which spanned from the North Sea all the way to the Irish Sea, and protected Britannia in 122 A.D. The 35 mile stretch of Μακρὰ Τείχη τῆς Θράκης (Long Walls of Thrace) was renewed by Roman Emperor Anastasius I in 507 A.D. to protect Constantinople from northern barbarian attacks. More recently, WWII Axis forces built complex defensive fortifications based on wall concepts to deter Allied attacks on the northern coast of Europe.

‍In medieval times, central Europe saw a proliferation of a type of wall called a Letzimauer. These Letzinen protected the entrances to valleys, and can be found in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. Letzinen were also sometimes combined with what we probably all think of when we hear “walls for defense”: castles. You might be surprised to learn that there are subtle differences between a “castle”, “palace”, and “fortress”.

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