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《Journal of National Museum of China》 2015-10
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City Fortification in Ancient China

Sun Ji;  
In the early times,most cities in China were protected with rammed earth walls. Crenellation [雉堞] on city walls first appeared in the Spring and Autumn period,together with suspended gate [悬门] and moat bridge [发梁]. The late Warring States period saw the invention of gate towers and protruding sections on the outside walls [mamian,马面],the latter being built to fend off invaders at the foot of the walls. Although city walls covered with bricks appeared as early as the Han dynasty,brick walls were not in wide use until the Ming dynasty. Barbican entrance [瓮城],an early defensive structure,was not built to accompany mamian until the Han and developed to be more advanced outer and inner barbican entrances in the Ming. In attacks,devices used to break open city gates or circumvent city walls include: battering ram [冲车] and scaling ladder [云梯](Western Zhou dynasty),scaling ladder mounted on wheels [车梯](Tang dynasty) and an improved version that had a height equal to that of the wall [对楼天桥](Song dynasty). In addition,tunneling was another effective way to enter a city. Following the development of gunpowder in warfare,explosives were used in mining assaults,as can be exemplified in peasant uprisings led by Li Zicheng and Zhang Xianzhong. Sometimes,the above mentioned methods were used in the same assault. The functions of other siege engines recorded in ancient documents,such as "桥车","巢车","饿鹘车","扬尘车","檑木飞梯" and "吕公车",have not yet been fully understood by scholars,due to the lack of material evidence or detailed battle records.
【CateGory Index】: K878
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