Four Times Longer Than China’s Wall – Great Walls Of Benin And Its Destruction By The British In 1897

The ancient walls of Benin, which is the largest and second longest human-made walls was built over 600 years (800 A.D – 1400 A. D) at the southern border of the Benin Kingdom.

According to archeologists, it took the villagers 150 million hours of digging to construct what was widely regarded as the largest archaeological phenomenon on earth.

Twelve years after constructing the walls, the Portuguese traders came to Benin and established a business with the people.

The walls were estimated to have covered a border of 16,000 kilometers. It occupied 6,500 km² landmasses. They consisted of 9.3 miles of banks and ditches (Iya in Benin language), and over 9000 miles in the rural area of the Benin Kingdom.

The 1974 edition of the Guinness Book of Records called the great walls of Benin City “the world’s largest earthworks carried out before the mechanical era.”


Four Times Longer Than China's Wall - Great Walls Of Benin And Its Destruction By The British In 1897
Ancient city of Benin before the British destruction – image credit:

It took over 100 times more material than that of the Great Pyramid of Cheops.
It remains the fact that the walls were four times longer than the Great Wall of China.

They were made through a combination of ramparts and moats, which predated modern earth-moving equipment and technology, and were mostly used for defensive purposes. It was believed to have been constructed at the time the Benin Kingdom was encountering wars.

The ramparts ranged in size from shallow traces to gigantic 66 feet around the city of Benin. They were steep banks of the earth that prevents invaders from climbing over them as they could be buried in a sand avalanche.
The moats were guided all day by guards and made it difficult for invaders who either get caught or killed.

In less than 500 years (1897) after the completion, the British, in their quest to enlarge their colony, invaded the Benin Kingdom, destroyed the walls, captured Oba Ovoramwen, enslaved indigenes, and stole their artifact, in operation termed “Benin Punitive Expedition”, in what was believed to be a retaliation of “Benin Invasion of 1897”.

Those stolen Bini artifacts were kept in the British Museum. The British reportedly refused to return the artifacts but admitted they could loan it out.
The high walls made it hard for the enemies to climb past the walls, and its outside was fortified with a thick shield. It had only nine gates accessing the city.

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