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1 Walls, Borders, and Imperial Formations: In Search of an Explanation

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Chapter Summary

The history of constructing large-scale protective walls is as old as the history of settled human populations. Ancient Greeks built the first fortifications around their towns in the late 8th and early 7th centuries BC, at about the same time that archaeological excavations indicate the presence of defensive walls around the biblical town of Jericho in Palestine, or in present time occupied West Bank territories. The Great Wall of China, the Great Wall of Gorgan, and Hadrian's Wall are the best examples of ancient imperial walls. Imperial formations always possess several inherent features. They are fragile multi-national/multi-ethnic entities held together by means of violent political structures; and challenges to empire either by rebellious subjugated entities within the empire or threats from without are always wrought with racial-ethnic discrimination. For one thing, borders no longer define boundaries between two nation-states, or demarcate the outer limits of a nation.

Keywords: Ancient Greeks; ancient imperial walls; Great Wall of China; Great Wall of Gorgan; Hadrian's Wall; imperial formations; territorial borders



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