The To-hoku earthquake and tsunami, the twin disasters that struck our neighbouring country two months ago left the world justifiably horrified and deeply saddened. So much devastation in such a short time! This "charging wall of destruction" has been known to man for a very long time. In 426 BC a tsunami devastated the coasts of the Maliakos and Euboic Gulf in Greece and this event led the Greek historian Thucydides to inquire into the origin of the natural phenomena, coming to the conclusion that the tsunami must have been caused by an earthquake.
Walls have been built since ancient times to mark borders, to keep enemies out or to keep people in. But no matter what purpose they serve, walls dominate the landscape wherever they stand. The most famous example of a separation barrier is probably the Great Wall of China which is not a continuous wall but a collection of short walls that were built, rebuilt and maintained between 214 BC and 1644 AD to protect its northern borders from the attacks of nomadic tribes. It is not only the biggest man-made structure, it's the longest, (stretches for 8,850 km/5,500 mi) and was built over 2,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest. The condition of the Great Wall ranges from excellent to ruined and possibly is the greatest tourist attraction in the world; in fact many architects and historians say it's more impressive than the Great Pyramids.
Archeological deposits indicate that the Theopetra Cave (Meteora, Greece) was continuously inhabited from approximately 50,000 BC to 3,000 BC. The cave holds one more record, namely the world's oldest known human-built structure. Made from stones and clay, the wall blocked two-thirds of the entrance to the cave situated nearby. It was constructed 23,000 years ago in order to protect the settlement from the cold of that period's ice age (probably as a windbreaker).
Most scientists now agree that three tribes built Stonehenge (Amesbury, England) at three separate times - the first were Neolithic agrarians, about 3000 BC; the Beaker people from Europe, around 2000 BC and the Wessex people are considered the third and final people to work on the Stonehenge site, arriving around 1500 BC. It still manages to confuse scientists to exactly how it was built as each stone weighed around 50 tons making it a truly amazing feat of engineering. Although its original purpose remains a very intriguing mystery, it has been speculated that it was either a temple dedicated to the worship of ancient earth deities, an astronomical calendar or a sacred burial site. Only something very important to the ancients would have been worth the effort and investment that it took to construct Stonehenge.
Babylon, about 80.46 km/50 miles south of modern Baghdad, Iraq was one of the great capitals of the ancient world and closely associated with King Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BC) - a wise ruler and the real genius and builder of Babylon. A double or possibly a triple thick wall of bricks filled with beaten earth was constructed and some 250 towers dotted the length of the walls, providing excellent lookout points and combat stations for the skilled Babylonian archers. The Walls of Babylon effectively protected his city for almost one hundred years; much of these ancient walls still stand, a testament to their strength.
It was midnight on a weekend and most Berliners slept while the police and units of the East German army began to install barbed wire fences and to tear up streets. In the early morning of Sunday, August 13, 1961, most of the first work was done - the border with West Berlin was closed. The order for the building of the wall came because over two and a half million people escaped to West Berlin between 1949 and 1960. Many sections of what the world knew as the "Berlin Wall" went through four different versions between 1961 and 1989. The outer wall on the West Berlin side was 3.60 m/ 11.8 ft high in places. Outside the city boundaries, the outer wall sometimes consisted of a wire mesh fence. This notorious wall stood for 28 years and when it was dismantled it was more than 140 km (87 mi) long and had 302 watchtowers. Over 5,000 people successfully escaped from East to West Berlin, approximately 200 people were killed trying to escape, and another 200 were shot but not killed. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a major turning point in recent history. The Iron Curtain had cracked, marking the end of communism in Germany. Soon after the collapse of the German regime, communist governments began to fall in other nations such as Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia.
We know that seawalls cannot fend off a tsunami's power - no matter what kind of wall humans build, nature has the power to destroy it. Mankind continues to build innumerable walls of conflict between and within nations. We hold the tools to tear down those barriers and craft practical strategies to rebuild a strong bond of peace and harmony bridging us and future generations.